The union environment ministry on Wednesday suspended the clearance of 93 mines in Goa on account of companies flouting forest laws, officials said.
"The ministry has suspended clearance of all 93 mines and the companies will have to submit all required documents for getting environment clearance afresh," Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters in Panjim.
The suspension comes after the Justice MB Shah Commission report, which was tabled in parliament on Friday, said that Goa's iron ore mining scam was worth nearly Rs. 35,000 crore.
Justice Shah in his report also indicted the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF), state directorate of mines, the state forest department and the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for the illegal mining. The report says illegal mining was spread over 500 hectares of area, several hundred acres of which was forest and government-owned land.
The voluminous report holds the state government and central government agencies party to the scam, along with the powerful mining operators here, who, according to Justice Shah, plundered natural resources and facilitated an "unrestricted, unchecked and unregulated export of iron ore to China", which made the exporters of ore "richer and richer".
The report says that forest laws were completely flouted by the mining companies and even mines which were illegally functioning in forest areas were not stopped by government authorities.
"All mining activities should be stopped with immediate effect, including transportation for all mining leases where there is no approval or clearance of the Standing Committee of NBWL (National Board of Wild Life) and are falling within 10 km of eco-sensitive buffer zone," Shah has recommended.