Fresh revelations show that 32 of the 54 working iron ore mines in forest areas do not have the mandatory clearances under conservation laws. Official records also show 21 mines operating within the 10-km protected zone around wildlife sanctuaries without environmental clearances.
Documents accessed by HT show the Goa government has been complicit in the illegal mining."Nearly 1.4 lakh trees have been butchered to make way for mines in forest areas," said Manohar Parrikar, opposition leader and chairman of the PAC probing the illegal mining. The PAC will submit its report on October 5 or 6.
The law mandates that four times the forest cover lost to mining be compensated through reforestation. The state, though, has undertaken only 2.5% afforestation.
Principal chief conservator of forests Shashi Kumar defended his decision to allow mines to operate close to wildlife sanctuaries. “We sought legal opinion from the Advocate General, who said mines could be allowed to operate temporarily,” he said.