New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered to stop all mining activities, including transportation of already mined manganese and iron ore, in Goa and sought responses of the central and state governments on a petition filed by an environmental action group, Goa Foundation.
The apex court`s forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam, while directing that all mining operations in the state be halted, also blocked the Goa government move to revoke the existing ban on mining operations after Diwali.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that in the name of transportation of already extracted ore, the illegal mining was continuing in the state.
The court asked the central empowered committee on environmental matters to submit its report on the condition of mines in Goa within four weeks.
The SC`s order came following a hearing on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, to restrain the resumption of iron and manganese ore mining in Goa amid a judicial commission estimating a loss of Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining there since 2000.
The NGO, which filed the petition through advocate Prashant Bhushan, referred to the report of Justice (Retd) MB Shah Commission and alleged that "iron ore worth Rupees 35,000 crores was plundered by the mining companies, committing theft of Government property”.
It said the Commission`s report tabled in Parliament on September 07 stated that "illegal activities in mining were underway since the year 2000" and that all the 90 mines in the state were functioning without the mandatory permission from the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) and 33 of these were within 1.5 kms of the wildlife sanctuaries, well inside the eco-sensitive zone notified by the NBWL.
"The failure of the state to control the illegal mining has led to large-scale destruction of both the forest and non-forest land and as such has adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor," the petition had said.
(With Agency inputs)