‘Over 40,000 job losses even if mining resumes in Goa’

Panaji, Dec 28: Over 40,000 jobs in mining and related sectors will be lost in Goa even if the current mining ban is lifted by the Supreme Court, says the state’s apex business body.

A plea to union Finance Secretary Sumit Bose by the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Saturday urged the central government to help the state’s economy, whose “every sector is reporting lower volumes” due to a current ban on mining.

“Even when the mining activity resumes, we expect the volumes will decline by more than 60 percent rendering jobless nearly 40,000 youth currently employed in mining and related sectors,” GCCI chairman Narayan Bandekar said in the petition.

All mining activities in Goa have been stalled for nearly a year now, following three successive bans, by the state government, the union environment and forests ministry, and the apex court following the multi-billion rupee illegal mining scam in Goa.

The ministry had put on hold all environmental clearances to Goa’s mines last year, after the state government suspended all mining operations in wake of Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam in Goa.

The Supreme Court ordered the ban following a petition filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan demanding a probe in the scam.

In 2010, Goa exported over 50 million tons of iron ore. According to documents tabled in the state assembly, nearly a third of the total exported ore from Goa is illegal.

“Given the fact that the matter of ban on mining in the state is in Supreme Court, this position is not expected to improve in the ensuing fiscal,” Bandekar said.

“While the shortfall in revenue on account of Goa may be insignificant to the centre, the state given the small size of its revenue base, will find it difficult to make up for the 25 percent shortfall (due the mining ban),” he claimed.

Bandekar said the ban had unleashed “a cascading effect on the rest of Goan economy, with almost every sector reporting lower volumes”, and requested the central government to lend a “helping hand” to the state, and the industrial sector in form of tax waivers and sops.

Bandekar himself is a leading mining magnate, and is one of the many in the mining business, who have been hauled up by a judicial commission for carrying out illegal mining in the state.

IANS