SC notice to Centre & Goa on ore export

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and the Goa government on a plea which alleged that the state government, in violation of its order, had allowed export of iron ores, purportedly extracted from Maharashtra.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Aftab Alam, sought the replies of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and various private companies to the allegation.

The court gave the order while hearing a plea filed by the NGO Goa Foundation which alleged that the state government allowed the export without verifying the correctness of the statement made by the exporter who had claimed that the ores were extracted in Maharashtra and not in Goa. The court posted the matter for further hearing on February 15.

"Application for transport and export has been allowed on the basis of statement made by the exporter and is not based on any records available with the director of mines. There appears to be no verification done as to the correctness of the application, which is necessary in view of the order of this court," said advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO.

Taking note of Justice MB Shah Commission's report which estimated a whopping R35,000 crore loss to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the last 12 years, the bench had halted mining operations in all the 90 mines in Goa on October 5 last year. It had also asked the CEC to submit its report on illegal mining in the state.

The apex court-appointed committee in its report has recommended that resumption of mining operations, halted by the apex court, may be not be permitted till the state government notifies rules to regulate storage, transportation and shipment of mineral ore.

The committee in its 124-page report said that on the lines of Karnataka, Goa should also prepare a reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan and the apex court should examine the environmental clearances given to the mining leases.

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