In what could prove to be a major setback for the Rs 6, 000 crore mining industry in Goa, the Union minister for environment and forests (MoEFF) Jairam Ramesh in a stern letter on Monday has told the Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat that the ministry has “imposed a moratorium on consideration of mining proposals for environmental clearance… till the mineral policy for the state of Goa is finalised.” Read letter
Ramesh has also called for a “comprehensive environmental impact assessment of all the mining activities that has taken place and for which permissions have been given over the last few years” in his letter, adding that the study should also identify remedial measures for which he plans to ask Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to carry out the study.
Incidentally, this development follows a meeting between Ramesh and a delegation of anti-mining activists from Goa led by UK-based Carmen Miranda and Claude Alvares, which was held in Kotagiri last week. “Ramesh admitted there’s a crisis situation in Goa as far as the mining issue is concerned,” says Miranda, who is also the sister of noted Goa-based cartoonist Mario Miranda. “We told him that there hasn’t been any study done on the carrying capacity of this industry in a small state like Goa, it must be looked into before more licenses are issued. Mining activities impinge on the wildlife habitats of the areas they operate in. We are very happy with this development.”
There are about 100 operational iron-ore and manganese ore mines in Goa’s hinterland which export nearly 33 million tons of ore annually.