Monday, 24 September, 2018

India's top court cancels iron ore mining permits in Goa: petitioners

Sesa Sterlite iron ore mine in Codli village in Goa.Credit:Reuters  Krishna Das Sesa Sterlite iron ore mine in Codli village in Goa.Credit:Reuters Krishna Das
Nellie Chapman | 08 February, 2018, 05:59

The SC order is a big blow to Goa's mining industry and will bring mining operations in the state to a standstill as nearly all mines in the state are operating on the second renewal of lease granted by the state government. The top court said in its order that the mining activities would only be allowed till March 15, 2018.

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". The hurried renewal of 88 mining leases, before the central act which made auctioning of leases is mandatory, is an even bigger scam.

The apex court, in 2012, had cancelled the licenses of scores of iron-ore mining companies in Goa for alleged violation of norms.

The court said that the Ministry of Environment and Forest "should also take all necessary steps to grant fresh environmental clearances to those who are successful in obtaining fresh mining leases". He, however, said, that since the leases stood cancelled on March 16, there should be no call for panic, as the Government had time to sort out the issue.

Goa is one of India's hotbeds for mining, known for its low-quality iron ore that's mostly exported to China. Activists have been campaigning for a ban on environmental grounds.

"This was not kept in mind and mining leases were renewed for a small payment of stamp duty and royalty. Therefore, the decision of the State of Goa to grant a second renewal of the mining leases is erroneous, contrary to the decision in Goa Foundation, and must be and is quashed".

"To identify these illegalities (although they had already been identified by the Justice Shah Commission and by the EAC), a Special Investigation Team had been set up as also a team of Chartered Accountants", it added pointing to the submission by Goa government.

On the court order, I Jeyakumar, chairman of Mormugao Port, said, "It is too early to comment on the scenario as I am in Delhi and still to read the order".

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