SC okays e-auction of 11.48 MT Goa ore, but mining ban stays

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SummaryThe court said proceeds from the sale would be kept in separate fixed deposit accounts by the Goa government

In an interim relief to mining companies, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Goa government to e-auction around 11.48 million tonnes of excavated iron ore stock lying idle in mines in the state following the mining ban imposed last year, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. It also appointed a three-member monitoring committee to oversee the process.

The court said proceeds from the sale would be kept in separate fixed deposit accounts by the Goa government till the apex court finally decides on the matter.

The move to allow the sale of mined ore may have some positive impact on exports. Prior to the mining ban in Karnataka and Goa, India used to be the world’s third-largest exporter of iron ore, shipping out

ore worth more than $7 billion per year, with much of that from Goa.

Still keeping mining operations on hold, a special bench headed by justice AK Patnaik also appointed another six-member panel to conduct macro-environmental impact assessment studies and suggest an annual cap on the quantum of mining “keeping in mind sustainable development”. The committee is supposed to submit interim report by February 15.

Without going into the issue of whether the auctioned iron ore could be exported, the bench said the three-member monitoring committee would have a member nominated by the chief secretary of Goa, Karnataka's additional principal chief conservator of forests UV Singh and former member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes Shaikh Naimuddin.

The member to be appointed by the chief secretary would not be less than the rank of the joint secretary at the Centre, it said.

The court's interim order said after deducting taxes and royalty, the committee would deposit the rest of the money as ad hoc compensatory afforestation fund management and planning authority (CAMPA) in a separate account.

The green bench also asked the Goa government to give the names of the six-member expert panel including an ecologist, geologist, mineralogist, an expert on forests, a member to be nominated by the chief secretary of Goa and one by the secretary in the MoEF by Monday.

L:ast October, the Supreme Court had banned mining operations, sale and exports in Goa on the basis of the Justice MB Shah Commission report which estimated a loss of Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the last 12 years. The report had indicted almost all miners.

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