'Goa cap on iron ore extraction a must'
Panaji: Capping of iron ore extraction in Goa is a must for sustainable mining and reigning in illegal mining, an official said Friday.
Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Manguirish Pai Raikar told reporters here that the apex trade association would back the Goa government, if it tried to cap iron ore extraction from Goa's 100 odd open cast iron ore mines.
"We are fully backing capping of core extraction. It is necessary if mining is to be made a sustainable business," Raikar said.
Raikar further said that for more than 50 years, even before the liberation of Goa in 1961, and that according to estimates the state had ore reserves that could last for the next thirty years approximately.
"The Chamber is going to fully back any move by the government to cap ore extraction. We need mining to last for the period. The mad rush to extract ore by any means has to stop," Raikar said.
Illegal extraction and export of iron ore has been one of the most contentious issues in Goa for the last few years.
The previous Congress-led coalition government had been accused of sheltering a mega illegal mining mafia, which the chief opposition at the time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had said was responsible for a Rs.25,000 crore illegal mining scam.
During his inspection of mining records, the Justice M. B. Shah commission which had been appointed to probe illegal mining in Goa and the rest of the country had said that most of the mines in the state had overshot the extraction limits, prescribed at the time of granting environmental clearances.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has already assured a "zero tolerance" policy vis-a-vis illegal mining and would follow the dictum of sustainable mining.
"We cannot allow extraction of 55 million tons like it has happened earlier. Something like 30 to 35 million tons can be alright," Parrikar said, adding that a consensus could be worked out for defining sustainable mining limits.
Goa exported over 55 million tons of iron extracted from over 100 odd operational mining leases, as well as illegal sources across the state.