It may be the end of the road for 12 iron-ore mines in Sonshi village of North Goa, if they fail to furnish a bank guarantee here tomorrow before the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), which has deferred renewal of their leases for this mining season over rising air pollution. Mining operations in Sonshi have been suspended since April 28 after these mine lease holders were found to be involved in violation of environmental norms.
Also, the GSPCB has kept on hold the renewal of leases of these mines under the Air and Water Pollution (control) Act, following protests by locals complaining about severe air pollution in the village. The Board, in its last meeting, had asked the mining firms to furnish a bank guarantee which would be forfeited if they indulge in polluting the air during their operations.
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The next meeting is scheduled tomorrow. “If the mining firms fail to furnish the bank guarantee in the meeting scheduled tomorrow, they will not be allowed to operate (this season),” a senior GSPCB official told PTI.
“Since the mining season ends on May 31, we will have to then take up their matter only after monsoon when the new season begins,” he added. The official said the guarantee amount will be based on the area of the lease.
“It is most likely to be Rs 50 lakh for mining leases that have area above 100 hectares; Rs 25 lakh for mining lease with area between 50 and 100 hectares, and Rs 12.5 lakh for mining lease area below 50 hectares,” he said.
“If lease holder fails to control the air and water pollution in the vicinity, the bank guarantee will be forfeited by the Board,” he said. Meanwhile, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) has rubbished media reports that air quality monitoring equipment have been manipulated by the mining companies.
“As an industry body we wish to clarify that all the equipment used by the mining companies are compliant and strictly meet the guidelines as mentioned by the various regulatory authorities,” GMOEA said in a press note here.
In addition, it may also be noted that the mining companies have allowed access to the GSPCB to assess and monitor all the equipment that have been installed for checks on environmental norms, the press note added.