Green clearances: Goa miners in limbo

The fate of 45 mines in Goa hangs in balance with the environmental clearances granted to them by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEf) expiring and Centre imposing a moratorium on fresh approvals.

Updated: Nov 14, 2011, 13:00 PM IST

Goa miners in limbo following expiry of green clearances
Panaji: The fate of 45 mines in Goa hangs in
balance with the environmental clearances granted to them by
the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEf) expiring and
Centre imposing a moratorium on fresh approvals.

Adding to their woes is the notices issued by the Goa
State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to all 45 mines asking
them "why their consent to operate should not be withdrawn and
mining operations on the leases suspended".

The notices were issued on November 3 and returnable by
November 18.

An NGO, Goa Foundation, which had moved the Bombay High
Court bench here seeking closure of the mines violating the
norms said "it is doubtful if fresh environment clearances
can be issued to all 45 mining leases since there is an
existing moratorium on consideration of environmental
clearances for mining activities in Goa".

The stay was imposed in February 2010 by Centre after
Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat dashed a missive seeking ban
on fresh clearances till the state mining policy is in place.

Similar complaints were also filed by environmentalist
Ramesh Gawas and a political activist Khemlo Sawant before
GSPCB.

Most of the environmental clearances to the mines were
issued between 2005 and 2006.

The coastal state is the biggest exporter of Iron Ore in
the country. The state has exported 54 million metric tons of
ore last fiscal, basically to satisfy the growing demand of
China`s steel industry.

The issue of Iron Ore mines extracting the ore without
valid clearances is also being examined by Justice M B Shah
Commission, which is likely to give its detailed report on the
illegal mining industry in Goa in a few days.

PTI