Goa green hurdle: SC panel wants scrapping of 42 mining leases

The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has recommended scrapping 42 mining leases operating either within or up to a one kilometre distance of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Goa.

The CEC, which submitted its report to the apex court on Friday, asserted that the SC should allow mining in Goa only after Environment Impact Assessment report is given in favour of mining lease holders, proper demarcation of lease areas are done and rehabilitation and reclamation plan was put into action.

A bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam asked all the stakeholders to file their response to the report and posted the matter for further hearing on January 4.

The apex court on October 5 had banned mining, transportation and export of iron ore from Goa pending inquiry report by the CEC, which was asked to probe into illegal iron-ore mining in the state, as pointed out by the Justice MB Shah inquiry commission. Citing the adverse effects of the interim order on the economy of Goa, the Goa Mining Association had last week disputed the findings of Justice Shah Commission's report and sought lifting of the ban.

The association had attacked the Shah Commission report, tabled in Parliament on September 7, which alleged that iron ore worth R35,000 crore was plundered by mining companies at the expense of the public exchequer by illegal mining in the last 12 years.

The Goa Mining Association, the Goa Mining Labour Welfare Union, the South Goa Truck-Owners Association, the All Goa Barge-Owners Association and mine-owner Harish Melawani have filed individual impleadment petitions in the matter.

The report preferred a complete prohibition on mining activities in respect of 19 mining leases located within wildlife sanctuaries and another 23 leases located up to a distance of 1 km from the boundaries of nearby national parks or sanctuaries. The panel also recommended a relook at MoEF's clearances to 120 other mining leases, located within a distance of up to 10 km of the national parks and sanctuaries, and said these should be placed before the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for consideration.

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