Mining will take at least two years to resume after SC order: Goa Foundation
The Supreme Court cancelled 88 mining leases given by Goa government for violating procedure.india Updated: Feb 07, 2018 23:27 IST
With the Supreme Court cancelling 88 leases in Goa and directing the grant of fresh licences through a bidding process on Monday, it will take at least two years for mining of iron ore and manganese to resume in the coastal state.
“Mining operations will take several years to resume because everything depends on the auction procedure. The government will have to find ways to invite proposals, and leases will be expensive. Only big players will bid,” said Goa Foundation director Claude Alvares, the petitioner in the case.
Once the auctions are completed, the leaseholders will have to apply for various clearances from ministries and agencies before launching mining operations. “That itself is a big problem because environment clearances will be challenged. All leases have done gross environmental damage,” said Alvares.
In 2015, the Goa government granted a second renewal for 88 leases extending to a period of 20 years. As many as 71 of these received environmental clearance, following which 54 lease holders were allowed to mine iron ore and manganese. Goa currently has 35 to 40 operational mines that produce 12-13 million tonnes of ore every year, and they will have to halt operations from March 16 in adherence to the apex court verdict.
The Goa Foundation has suggested that the government retain the leases, hand out contracts for extraction to private players, and market the acquired ore on its own. “We don’t know if the Goa government wants to do that, but it’s the fastest way to revive mining in the state. Otherwise, it will take no less than two years,” said Alvares.
Chief minister Manohar Parrikar told IANS that a formal statement would be issued by his office soon. Goa is the highest exporter of iron ore. “...In that judgement, I understand, the court has also said that auction may not necessarily be the means. That means different possibilities have opened up, but let me first read (the order) properly,” he said.
The Goa Foundation has estimated that ₹65,058 crore (Rs 4.5 lakh per Goan) is conservatively recoverable for the period of illegal mining between November 22, 2007, and September 10, 2012. It also demanded compensation for the environmental damage and freezing of assets of all erstwhile mining leaseholders.