Goa has only two major sources of income, one which used to come from the mining and second is the tourism. There is no doubt that the mining ban has crippled the state to the large extent and tourism is also not doing very good. The MLAs are busy securing their positions and political parties their existence. Under such circumstances when mining will resume, and how? is a major concern. The ban that was issued by the supreme court is non-challengeable, then how is the ruling party assuring the resuming of mining activity in the state, and if that does not happen then what alternate plant does the government has in place for the mining affected people and Goa’s sinking economy?
Mining has been a very important element in the economic history of modern Goa and a significant foreign exchange earner for the state. The inhabitants of Goa are dependent on iron ore business, directly or indirectly.
Mining in Goa focuses on ores of Iron, Bauxite, Manganese, Clay, Limestone, and Silica. Mining has provided the trigger to boost the economy in the mining talukas. Certain natural factors like the presence of coastline, a very good harbor at Mormugao and a number of navigable perennial rivers have promoted to the economic exploitation of mineral deposits. Transport of ores is cheaper through seaways rather than roadway or railways.
But with the ban of mining activity in Goa, the government has taken a hit of Rs800 crore of the fiscal years to its treasure due to the closure of mining activity in the state. In 2012 mining in Goa was stopped both by the state as well as the Centre following a Rs35,000 crore illegal mining scam unearthed by a Judicial Commission appointed by the Union Mines Ministry. Later in the same year, the Supreme Court banned all mining activities following a Public Interest Litigation by Goa Foundation, a local NGO working for the environment.
According to the Chief Minister, an interim was to introduced agriculture in the mining areas as was done by the government back in 2012-13 when the apex banned mining for the first time. Parrikar also added by saying that “The government will expose all options, including an auction of mining lease to ensure that the mining activity is not affected by the SC order”.
The second renewal of iron ore mining which granted the lease to 88 companies in Goa back in the year 2015, wherein the move was crushed by the Supreme Court said Parrikar and the motion were granted on the bases of the decision of the Bombay High Court. Parrikar said that “If you see, the High Court proceeded on an erroneous base that it could direct the state of Goa to grant a second renewal of the mining notwithstanding the direction of Goa Foundation”.
In the year 2017 Parrikar mentioned that if mining activities were to resume and if any pollution related complaints were to surface by the residents, then he would stop mining activity. “If the pollution does not stop and the villagers do not want to mine, I will stop the mining activity but later on I should not have people coming to me saying that we are without business, therefore give us some grant or loan. That is not possible,” he said.
The complete closure of mining operation in Goa has in fact impacted the lives of over 2 lakh people said Puti Goankar, president of Goa People’s Mining Front (GPMF). The GPMF on September 26, 2018, an umbrella body of those who have been affected by the mining, had landed the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to look into the matter with the center for resuming mining in the state.
Parrikar who at the moment is undergoing treatment for his illness had written to the mining ministry for making changes in the law of mining activities in the state. Puti said that “We welcome the initiative taken by the Chief Minister, in spite of his health condition, he did it”.
In a meeting, last month Parrikar who had met up with the Prime Minister had suggested the legal amendment to remove impediment. In its judgment on February 7, 2018, the Supreme Court had crushed the second renewal of iron ore mining lease which was given to 88 companies in Goa as a result of which mining activities have to a halt,” he added.
Parrikar ruled out that the total loss to the state exchequer was 35,000 crore as pointed out by Shah commission. The public account committee of Goa Assembly which is headed by me (Parrikar) is clear that the loss due to illegal mining is only around 4,000-5,000 crore. The loss which we are measuring is royalty loss to the state said Parrikar.
Parrikar claimed despite the ban the state government has recovered Rs1,300 crore from mining firms, which was only possible due to the rule of the BJP government. Responding to a question on the states government’s failure to recover the money allegedly involved in illegal mining.
Our current mining inventory will last till December and I foresee the mining industry to be back by December 2018, said Parrikar to a question on the impact of the Supreme Court judgment. Parrikar also mentioned that mining can be successful in the coastal state only if mine owners control their greed.
According to the Chief Minister, an interim measure was to introduce agriculture in the mining areas as was done by the government back in 2012-13 when the apex court banned mining for the first time. Parrikar also said that his government will expose all options, include the auction of mining lease to ensure that the mining industry is not affected by the SC order. No proposal would be kept pending after that said Parrikar.
Now it is very much evident that the mining may not resume in the near future as the government who is assuring the reinstating the same is not in good condition. The concerns of the mining-dependent still remain intact as they have no clues about their future and how they are going to manage the repayments of the loans they had taken from the banks. Meanwhile, the Goa Urban Bank is already in process of recovering the loans from mining defaulters. Please Share your Suggetions and Views on this story?