Goa's iron ore export to grind to a halt

Andrew Cummings
February 8, 2018

A year later, the State Government renewed all 88 mining leases-owned by the very same holders initially accused of illegal mining-for 20 years with retrospective effect from 2007.

Holding that the grant of mining lease extension by the state government is in violation of law and the Supreme Court's earlier order, an apex court bench asked the centre to grant fresh environment clearances to these companies if they are to continue operating.

The Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Curchorem Nilesh Cabral reacted sharply on Wednesday on the Supreme Court judgment that ordered cancellation of 88 mining leases in Goa from March 15 and said that the judgment was "one-sided". A division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur, set aside the state government's order renewing lease licences to several mining companies in the state.

Goa was the country's leading exporter of low-grade iron ore and exported almost 50 million tonnes of ore, before the Shah Commission in 2012 exposed a Rs 35,000 crore scam, implicating almost all major mining industrial houses in the scam, along with then Congress Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and key bureaucrats.

Goa produces more than 50 million tonnes iron ore annually and exports most of it, making it also the top exporter. Affected companies have time until March 15 to manage their affairs. The decision was taken only to augment the revenues of the State which is outside the purview of Section 8 (3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Activists have been campaigning for a ban on environmental grounds.

The AAP also claimed that the mining renewal scam was bigger in quantum than the Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam unearthed by a judicial commission in 2012.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Goa Foundation in 2015.

During the pendency of the matter in the Supreme Court, Goa came out with the Grant of Mining Leases Policy which was approved on October 1, 2014.

Other reports by iNewsToday