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Goa miners irked as mining unlikely to resume in 2014

Saturday, 28 June 2014 - 6:35am IST | Agency: dna

Unncessary delay from state government hurts industry sentiments; Govt to tweek policy

Resumption of iron ore mining in Goa will get further delayed and is unlikely to start in this calendar year as the state government is busy tweaking the existing mining policy to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court's last order.

Almost one-third of the Goa's population dependent on mining is now becoming restless as there is no clear time-line being given by the state government for restarting mining activities even after the apex court lifted the ban in April and put a cap of 20 million tonne annual production.

The court order also ruled that all mining leases in Goa expired in 2007 and mining activity carried out post (deemed second renewal) were to be considered illegal.

Several stakeholders dna correspondent spoke to argued that if Odisha government has allowed mining activity to resume within a month, then why is Goa government taking such a long time.

"Mining is banned in Goa since past 20 months, with everyday the situation is getting worst in the state. SC has already lifted the ban, and Goa state government has been given complete power to start mining. However until the state government renews mining leases, no one can start operating mines," Ambar Timblo, managing director of Fomento Resources, told dna.

Following the Supreme Court order, Goa chief minister Manohar Parikkar had said that the government will come out with a fresh policy by June for granting new mining leases. The previously mining policy by the Goa government had come up in September 2013.

"Entire state is in great expectation that the government will take credible and timely decision to start mining, but they have not even taken the first step yet. The process for granting fresh lease has not even kick started yet. If Odisha can do it, why not Goa? Goa is more dependent on mining," Christopher Fonseca, the local general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, a wing of the Communist Party of India, said.

Nilkanth Gavas, president, Goa Mining Truck Association, said that politicians in the state were not acting with the alacrity which was required in the situation as livelihood of several people is dependent on mining.

"Several formalities required for resumption of mining are yet to be completed. It looks like mining would not start till December," he said.

Prassana Acharya, director, mines and geology, Government of Goa, said that fresh leases would be granted in the state only after the mining policy is finalised as they were currently busy in modifying existing mine policy. He refused to give exact duration by when mining could start in the state.

On being asked about when the new policy could be finalised he replied, "As soon as possible, our primary concern is to give effect to the Supreme Court order." Replying on the concerns about fresh leases requiring lengthy procedures he replied, "nothing like that, there can be ways and means out of it."

As per the state government, no lease except one has been renewed since 2007. However, Timblo claimed that the government had renewed 28 leases before the apex court order came and had also charged Rs 400 crore as stamp duty, so it must allow at least those mines to resume operations. Acharya declined this claim and said no leases were renewed. Timblo also argued that state government had no right to issue fresh licences as that power rests with the center under the MMRDA act.

Prakash Duvvuri, head of OreTeam Research, a Delhi-based research firm, said mining is the backbone of the Goa's economy and industries like Sesa Sterlite are starving of ore leading to a critical situation.

"The Goan ore can hardly be utilised in India and neither the environmental factors in the state allow setting up of plants within the state to utilise this ore. Moving the Goan ore to nearby state for steel making amidst high freight charges is not cost-effective as well." said Duvvuri.

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