The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), constituted by the Goa State Legislative Assembly has collected data, which confirms that large quantity of ore was tapped by firms without proper mining permissions in the state's forest-rich rural talukas.
The Manohar Parrikar-led PAC has gathered that of the 70 mines in Sattari, Sanguem and Quepem talukas, total 41 operated without permission under various forest laws, as they were operating close to green areas. They had failed to get mandatory NOC under Forest Clearance Act and also certificate from Chief Wildlife wardens, and also under the Air and Water Pollution Control Act, the documents indicate. The Committee has also come across several mines which have exceeded its permissible limit of ore extraction.
A senior PAC member said that during last three years almost 98 lakh metric tones of Iron Ore was illegally consigned abroad from these mines evading royalty to the state government. A rough estimate of the data collected from State Forest department and State Mines and Geology department has revealed that almost 30 percent of the ore was illegally extracted in the state.
"That means almost 15 million metric tones of ore is extracted illegally through various mining leases," a senior member said estimating that 45 million metric tones of ore is exported on an average. The financial year 2010-11 saw Goa exporting historic 54 million metric tones of ore from state’s both the ports. Parrikar, when contacted, said that there is massive illegal mining in the rural talukas of Sanguem, Quepem and Sattari. "But the exact amount of ore illegally tapped would be known only after compiling the data for the final report," he said.
PAC has hinted that it will come down heavily on the illegal mining in these areas, predominantly having forest cover, which are being plundered by the powerful mining lobby in the state. The Committee which has began probing into micro details of the mining records have found that there are several mines which have been extracting ore although their consent under Air and Water Pollution Control Act is pending with the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB).
"They have been extracting ore in million tones every year although they are supposed to stop their operations immediately," a PAC member said. Goa is the largest exporter of Iron Ore in India. The tiny state with 90-odd mining leases scattered across the state is exporting 54 million metric tones of ore, annually.