Goa mining: SC order draws mixed reactions

The Supreme Court on Friday banned mining operations in Goa on the basis of Justice MB Shah Commission report.

Updated: Oct 06, 2012, 11:27 AM IST

Panaji: The Supreme Court order halting extraction and transportation of ore in Goa has received mixed reactions with environmentalists welcoming the order but industry demanding that legal mining should have been spared.

"We welcome this order (of the Supreme court). The environment in the state will get a breathing time to heal all the wounds committed by the mining industry," social activist Oscar Rebello told a news agency.

He said that the government, NGOs, stakeholders and mine operators should use the time of the ban to work out the alternate mode of employment for those who are genuinely dependent on the mining activity for their livelihood.

The Supreme Court on Friday halted the extraction and transportation of the ore in Goa and also formed a Centrally Empowered Committee, which will submit its report within four weeks after examining the illegalities in this sector.

Goa Foundation, a state based NGO, had approached the Supreme Court demanding a ban on the mining industry in the state.

However, the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) feels that the apex court should have spared the legal mining industry in its verdict. "The legal mining activity should have been allowed to continue. There are so many mining leases that are legally valid," GCCI president Manguirish Pai Raikar said.

He claimed that GCCI had always been opposing illegal mining in the state. "In all the communications, which we have been addressing to the state government during the last three years, the Chamber has been opposing illegal mining and fly-by-night operators," Raikar said.

The GCCI has said that an investment of Rs 1,200 crore has been locked due to current imbroglio in the mining sector. "State government should portray a right picture to the Supreme Court about the industry," he added.

Noted environmentalist Ramesh Gawas, a crusader against illegal mining activity and a RTI activist, blamed the mine owners for the current critical situation.

"The mine owners have increased the liabilities without a reason. For the entire mining operation in Goa we required 11,000 trucks, but we have 22,000 trucks in the state ferrying the ore," Gawas alleged.

He said the mine owners, who have been earning crores of rupees by tapping the resources, should now financially help the people who are ridden with the crisis.