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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014

Goa, Centre in war of words over illegal mining in state

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi , December 30, 2012
First Published: 18:49 IST(30/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:13 IST(30/12/2012)

Environment ministry and the Goa government are caught in war of words over the mining mess the state as the Supreme Court hearing in the case nears.

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The Supreme Court in October had banned any mining activity in the state following justice MB Shah report, which found huge illegal mining in the state. The court would be hearing the case on January 17, when the Goan government is expected to rebut the claims on environment ministry on the issue.

"The environment ministry has mislead the court on the issue," Goan chief minister Manohar Parrikar told HT on the sidelines of National Development Council meeting in Delhi. "The ministry cannot put blame on the state government. It was they (the ministry) which gave permission for rampant mining in the state".

Parrikar, who as Leader of Opposition, had used the Right To Information law to obtain information regarding illegal mining in the state and made it an election issue. After winning the assembly elections, he imposed a ban on illegal mining but his attempt to revoke the ban has been stonewalled by the Supreme Court.

He told the NDC that the Central government has to be blamed for the mining mess because of the "haphazard" manner in which the environment ministry has given clearances. Parrikar also said that mining approvals were also given to people who were not involved in mining at all.

Environment ministry had rebutted his claims and said that monitoring the mining approvals is job of the state government, in which it has failed. The ministry officials also said that the state government neither reported the extant of illegal mining not took any action against it till Shah committee submitted its report.

The ministry was also pulled by the National Green Tribunal for "casually" granting environmental clearance for a mining project in reserved forest area in Goa without verifying the information.

The NGT bench of Justice V R Kingaonkar and expert member D K Agrawal quashed the environment clearance (EC) and the forest clearance (FC) granted by the MoEF and the approval of Goa's Chief Warden of Wildlife to mining firm Elray Minerals and Company, saying they were "invalid, illegal and improper."

The Goa government has also objected to the ministry's proposal that all areas within 10 kms of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be notified as eco-sensitive zones under the Environment Protection Act. "It (the proposal) will virtually remove most of the available land from the purview of development," he said.


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