Goa, mining firms talks on creating corridor stalemated

Panaji, July 21: Goa’s Rs.6,000 crore mining industry wants the state government to renew old mining leases and resolve environmental issues, in return for their financial contribution towards a corpus for building an exclusive mining transport corridor to ferry iron and manganese ore.

The minutes of a recent steering committee meeting chaired by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat to monitor the setting up of the exclusive mining corridor in south Goa’s mining belt indicate a stalemate between the mining industry and the government.

A copy of the minutes is available with IANS.

‘During the discussions, the question of funding of the mining road corridor came up. Secretary (Mines) pointed out that so far no one has come forward towards sharing the project,’ the minutes state.

‘He also pointed out that the users have submitted very bulky documents and suggested that a simple agreement be worked out towards cost sharing and other related items.’

Kamat, who last year floated the idea of the 40-km mining corridor for quick and hassle-free transportation of iron ore, had initially said the mining corridor project would be totally funded by the mining companies operating in Goa and a corpus of Rs.500 crore would be created with contributions from the mining industry.

After a few months, Kamat said the state government would also set aside some money for the purpose along with the mining industries.

The latest stand-off between the mining companies represented by the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) and the Goa government came at the crucial steering committee meeting July 13.

After government officials at the meeting proposed that ‘user agencies who have shown interest may deposit Rs.10 crore each with the government as an advance payment towards contribution’, GMOEA president Shivanand Salgaonkar has asked for a significant quid pro quo.

‘Shivanand Salgaocar, the president of GMOEA, also focused on the issue that the government has to ensure that the renewals and other pending environmental issues need to be looked into earnestly,’ the minutes state.

Transporation of ore in the mining belt of Sanguem and Pale sub-districts has been a contentious issue, as far as pollution and road accidents are concerned. Numerous fatal accidents involving mining trucks have triggered impromptu strikes by the residents of mining towns.

IANS