On March 15, 2018, the mining activities involving iron ore extraction, in Goa, had been banned. Even nine months after the Supreme Court order, the future of more than one-tenth of the state’s population, who had been dependent on mining for their livelihood, remains uncertain. The ban was a huge blow to the BJP led government of Manohar Parrikar as it was hoped that the mining sector would regain the momentum after its ban in 2012.
Mining which used to be one of the two major sources of revenue in Goa other than tourism came to a halt in March this year due to Supreme Court order. Thousands of them are now headed for Delhi for a three-day protest. The State BJP leadership is working hard on getting the Prime Minister to agree for an amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. With the fast approaching Lok Sabha polls, sources say that the BJP is under tremendous pressure to resume the mining activities in the state so as to raise the party’s prospects. The state partnership functionaries are trying hard to get the central government to resolve the mining issue. Sources said that people in the mining belt are growing restless regarding the mining issue as it was the only means of livelihood. The state’s mining sector had impacted 1.5 lakh people and hit iron ore exports worth up to Rs 25,000 crore.
According to Economic Times, Puti Gaonkar, President of the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), alleged the state government is not making genuine efforts to renew leases so as to enable auctioning of the leases to “mining giants such as Adani and JSW”. He also warned that the delay in the mining issue will cost BJP, which leads a coalition government in the state. He said, “BJP won’t be allowed into talukas in the mining belt if this issue is not resolved”. Adding to this, he further said, “They can forget coming back to power for the next ten years.”
Responding to this, Shivsena lawmaker Sanjay Rath, on Wednesday said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted he could resolve the issue on the Mining industry in 5 minutes. According to NDTV, around 1,000 people under the banner of the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) have been protesting at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi since Tuesday demanding an amendment to the mining laws during the ongoing winter session of Parliament to resume mining activity in Goa. Addressing the protesters Mr. Raut said, “We witnessed British rule in the country and in Goa you have seen the Portuguese rule but they never went against the livelihood of the people”. He also said, “Prime Minister wants he can solve the issue of mining dependents in 5 minutes.”
Hopeful in a positive decision, Goankar sought for the assistance of Union Commerce Minister, Suresh Prabhu. Prabhu was in Panaji for a Global Venture Capital Summit and has assured that he would seek for an appointment with the Prime Minister and convince him on resolving the mining issue. According to Times of India, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has also been trying to seek for an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impress upon him for lifting the mining ban in Goa.
Now the real question is will the mining ban be lifted? And would the mining dependents get an alternative for the means of livelihood? What steps will the government take to provide justice for the mining dependents? If incase, the ban is lifted, what measures will be taken to protect the environment?