The Centre has turned down a demand from Goa miners for resumption of the mining activity in the state through an ordinance, a move that could hit the country’s mining output growth.
The Centre has turned down a demand from Goa miners for resumption of the mining activity in the state through an ordinance, a move that could hit the country’s mining output growth. The “mining and quarrying” sector had reported flat growth (0.1%) in the first quarter of this financial year.
The Supreme Court had in February this year quashed the state government’s 2015 order granting ‘second renewal’ of 88 iron ore mining leases in the state.
The apex court had also directed to stop all mining operations, with effect from March 16, on the ground that the second renewal was given to those mines in violation of its previous directions.
It also said that the order will prevail until fresh mining leases are granted and fresh environmental clearances given.
In a letter to the Prime Minister on September 24, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar requested him to take appropriate steps to bring about necessary changes in the provision of the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act so that the mining in the state can resume at the earliest.
The mining industry in the state provides around 60,000 direct employment and the dependents are many more. Even at 20 million tonnes per annum production cap, the mining industry contributes over 10% to the state GDP. The abrupt stoppage might also increase the size of the non-performing asset of the financial institutions which had advanced to various individuals and entities for purchase of mining machinery, trucks and burges.
Considering the larger public sentiment and benefit at large, a private members’ resolution was also passed in the state assembly during the monsoon session requesting the Centre and the state government to take appropriate steps including legislative measures to resolve the economic and social chaos arising out of the stoppage of the mines’ closure. The resolution had unanimous support.
However, sources in the mining ministry said that the Centre was not considering to bring an ordinance, since mining is a state subject and the Centre really does not have much to interfere into the mining affairs of a particular state.
The mining industry in Goa has also faced stoppage of all activity earlier. Taking cognisance of the MB Shah commission report, which claimed there was illegal mining worth Rs 35,000 crore in the state between 2005 and 2012, the apex court had in 2012 stooped all mining activity in the state as well. The industry remained shut for nearly 19 months from October 2012 to April 2014, when the apex court finally allowed miners to operate, imposing several riders including the restriction of extracting 20 million tonnes of ore annually.
After lifting of the ban, it took another 18 months for the industry to actually start the work as the first fresh extraction took place in October 2015.