Mining in Goa: State hopes Centre will amend laws for resumption of activity

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Panaji | Published: June 24, 2019 2:55:26 AM

Goa’s export-oriented mining sector is unique. Mining concessions in the state were granted much before of its liberation from the Portuguese rule in 1961.

The ongoing impasse’ is the result of the Supreme Court’s February 2018 order that shot down the second renewal of 88 working mines, granted between 2014 and 2015. (Reuters)

The community dependent on mining in Goa, including leaseholders, hopes that the Centre will soon make an amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu (Abolition and Declaration of Mining Leases) Act (Abolition Act), 1987 to pave way for resumption of mining activity which came to a standstill in March last year following a Supreme Court order.

Though the power to amend the Act lies with the Centre, sources said it is still awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision pertaining to the title and duration of mining leases granted. The Centre reckons until a decision on the matter is arrived at by the apex court, the title issue will not get resolved.

“It is submitted that pending adjudication of the legal issues in the present appeal, there will always remain an inherent legal uncertainty on the title rights of the mines, if granted afresh, as per the directions passed by the Supreme Court in Goa Foundation Cases, as the original title of mines is still under litigation,” the Union mines ministry said in the interlocutory application, seeking an early hearing.

Goa’s export-oriented mining sector is unique. Mining concessions in the state were granted much before of its liberation from the Portuguese rule in 1961. These concessions were converted into mining leases through the amendment to the Abolition Act, 1987.

The state government is of the opinion these leases should be deemed to have been granted in 1987 and have a tenure of 50 years, like any other leases under the amended MMDR Act, 2015.

It suggested an insertion in the Abolition Act which reads, “Every mining concession which was abolished, and has been deemed to be a mining lease and which had applied for and had been granted renewal, shall extend and be deemed to have granted for a period of 50 years”.

The ongoing impasse’ is the result of the Supreme Court’s February 2018 order that shot down the second renewal of 88 working mines, granted between 2014 and 2015, terming the renewal was “unduly hasty, without taking all relevant material into consideration”.

Meanwhile, both the Centre and the state are of the view that the closure of mines has entailed a great public and financial prejudice not only on citizens of the state but also on the state exchequer.

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