Panaji: Two open-cast iron ore mines operating within a short distance of a wildlife sanctuary in Goa have been asked to shut down operations by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests.
The ministry on Wednesday issued notices to the two mining firms and gave them 15 days to respond as to why their operations should not be shut down in the face of their failure to get a clearance from the National Wildlife Board (NWB).
The mines are located close to the Bhagwaan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, about 85 km south of Panaji, which is home to the Indian bison, a protected species.
The NWB clearance is necessary for mines operating in forest area and in close proximity of wildlife reserves.
The mines in question, which have been issued order under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986, are being operated by firms Pandurang Timblo Industries and Gangadhar Agarwal.
The issue involving mining near wildlife reserves was hotly debated in the recently concluded Monsoon Session of the Goa Assembly.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has assured the House that no forest land would be converted in favour of expanding existing mining concessions or new mining leases.