The Goa government has started returning applications seeking new mining leases pending a report from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and also the Apex Court outcome.
The Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition against illegal mining in Goa, has stopped mining operations in the coastal state. The BJP-led government has asked Nagpur-based NEERI to assess impact of mining activities on environment and submit a report.
State Mines and Geology Department, which has received 1,144 applications for mining leases or seeking information whether some particular areas can be mined, has started the process of returning them, officials said.
Assistant Director (Mines & Geology) Parag Nagarcekar said a decision on these applications can be taken only after getting a report from NEERI and final judgment of the Supreme Court. When the mining was banned in Goa in 2012, there were 90 working leases.
The state's mining policy has also made it clear that no new leases will be granted till NEERI report is submitted and examined. The iron ore exports in the state had been stopped after the Supreme Court took cognisance of illegal mining followed by a probe by Justice M B Shah Commission.
The over one-year-old ban on mining, a key revenue source for the tiny state, has adversely affected Goa's economy.