Goa govt initiates steps to clamp illegal mining

In the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, the government decided to impose the stamp duty of Rs one lakh per hectare on the mining leases.

Panaji: Embattled with the allegations of illegal mining in the state and the Assembly elections scheduled early next year, Goa Government has unleashed a slew of measures apparently to extricate itself out of the controversy.

With its image taking a serious beating over alleged instances of illegal mining by the lease-owners and traders, the Digambar Kamat government has begun tightening the noose around the mining industry, especially since the time when the
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) launched a probe into the illegalities.

The PAC probe is being led by former chief minister and Opposition leader Manohar Parrikar besides other members.

From contemplating to levy a green cess on mining dumps to the latest move of imposing a stamp duty on the mining leases, the state government seems to be leaving no stone unturned to put a leash on the alleged unfair practises prevalent in the mining industry.

In hindsight of the alleged acts of commission and omission as far as taming the mining industry is concerned, the state government has now cracked a whip on the `wayward` miners.

Realising that the state exchequer lost several crores in the form of mining royalty, the state government since November last made it mandatory for the shippers to secure NOC from the State Mines and Geology Department before exporting
the consignment of ores.

This move has added revenue in the form of royalty to the tune of whopping Rs 1,000 crore to the state coffers.

The coastal state has so far clocked the highest ever export of 54 million metric tonnes during the last financial year.

Goa government of late realised the adverse effects of illegal mining on the environment.

As per a study conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the state has incurred an unrealised environment cost due to mining to the tune of Rs 548.4 crore.

The unrealised cost comprises the cost of land filling of sites at Rs 14.1 crore, avoidance cost Rs 0.5 crore, air pollution due to iron ore mining Rs 66.5 crore and
deforestation at Rs 467.3 crore.

Goa government`s earlier move to impose a green cess on the ore dumps with the objective of taxing the mine owners for environmental degradation, however, did not prove to be effective.

Chief minister Digambar Kamat had made the announcement to impose the cess in the state budget of 2009-10. The cess was, however, never collected as the state
had no record of the existing dumps.

The State Mines and Geology Department stepped in only recently by asking the mining companies not to export the dumps as the process to register them is underway.

After MB Shah Commission launched an inquiry into the illegal mining trade, it seems the state government has suddenly woken up from its slumber.

In the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, the government decided to impose the stamp duty of Rs one lakh per hectare on the mining leases from retrospective effect.