Panaji, April 21: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the opposition Congress and the state’s top trade forum Monday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke its ban on mining in the state.
Parrikar said “prima facie” the apex court’s order was in sync with the state government, and a detailed statement from his government would follow after perusal of the court order.
State Congress president John Fernandes too welcomed the order, saying legal mining in the state should resume immediately.
“We hope the people who had to suffer due to the mining ban will now be able to eke out a living,” Fernandes said.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued here Monday, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) president Narayan Bandekar said the lifting of the ban would bring relief to those whose livelihood was dependent on the industry.
“The ban adversely affected not only the mining and related activities, but had a huge impact on almost every sector of Goa’s economy,” Bandekar said.
According to the state government estimates, over one lakh residents are linked to the mining industry, both directly and indirectly.
Bandekar called the lifting of the ban a “good beginning”, and added that legal mining should resume within prescribed limits and conditions and that the GCCI would approach the apex court at a later date to enhance the cap on ore extraction.
When the mining industry was at its peak, over 55 million tonnes of iron ore was exported from the state’s only major port in 2011.
The court had also banned mines located within one km of Goa’s numerous wildlife sanctuaries.
Both the ceiling on ore extraction and the buffer zone outside wildlife areas are subject to recommendations made by a committee appointed by the apex court.
The court ruled as illegal several mining leases which were renewed after 2007, which could potentially put former chief minister Digambar Kamat, who had overseen the renewal of the mines, in the dock.
Mining in Goa was banned in October 2012 by the apex court while hearing a petition against large-scale illegalities in the sector.
The central government-appointed Justice M.B. Shah Commission exposed a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam in Goa, where politicians, bureaucrats and mining company magnates have been linked.