Illegal mining: Over 400 Goa traders under scanner



Panaji: Over 400 iron ore traders in Goa have come under the scanner after a preliminary inquiry by the Central government-appointed Shah Commission pointed towards large scale illegal mining in the state.

State Mines and Geology department has summoned all these traders registered with them to verify the source from where they have been procuring the ore.

Director of Mines and Geology Arvind Lolienkar has been personally holding an inquiry of each trader, who have been asked to remain present with the details of their turnover.

Sources said that 405 traders registered with the Mines department have been issued notices under Goa Mineral illegal storage, transportation and trading Act, 2004.

After Justice M B Shah, who is heading the inquiry Commission began probe into the illegal iron ore trade in the state, closure of eight mines have been ordered.

Government sources said the Mines department was at the receiving end during the inquiry as they were not armed with the proper data about exports.

A senior Mines department official said that small traders who largely contribute for the exports, are the main link which can expose the illegal trade.

"We are asking them from where the ore was sourced and whether royalty was paid on it. If we find that the ore was sourced without paying royalty or was extracted illegally, then action would be taken against the offenders," a senior official said.

Director of Mines refused to comment on the issue, stating that the inquiry of traders is on and the matter would be discussed once the process is completed.

Department sources, however, said the main concern is about those traders who are not registered with the government.

Both the ports - Mormugao and Panaji- do not make it mandatory for the traders to register with the department. How can we have control illegalities by traders whom we cannot even recognise a senior official asked.

Goa is the largest exporter of iron ore in the country and has exported 54 million metric tones of ore during last financial year.

The Commission which has been investigating into the illegal iron ore trade has asked the mines department to order closure of 8 out of 90 mines, which were found to be violating the laws.

Eight teams of the commission are already inspecting each mine individually.

Sources stated that almost 75 per cent of the inspection has been completed.

Justice Shah was recently in Goa and had held a public hearing over the issue following which the demand to regularise illegal mining was raised, which was outrightly rejected by him.

PTI