Panaji, Apr 3 (PTI) With mining activities remaining in standstill for the last four years, an iron ore exporters’ body has said that “continuous suspension is equally a threat” and stressed the issue should have been resolved long back.
“Four years is a pretty long time for keeping anything under continuous suspension. To our mind, this (mining issue) should have been resolved long back…Being under continued suspension is equally a….threat,” Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) Secretary Glenn Kalavampara said.
Stating that the state government is looking to resume the mining operations in some form or the other, Kalavampara said the GMOEA is also part of the opinion that this is a long-suspended activity and it needs to be resumed at the earliest.
“Of course, there are certain issues that need to be addressed, which are still in the process of being probably heard or considered. But there are certain options even beyond that which can probably ensure that things can start…if not at the pace which was earlier you know some form of activity,” the secretary explained.
The iron ore industry in Goa came to a standstill after the Supreme Court quashed 88 mining leases in 2018, affecting the livelihoods of over three lakh mining dependents with over 75,000 jobs in the state.
Asserting that there should be some long-term solution to the issue, Kalavampara said that in absence of mining, employment and important foreign exchange earnings have been affected adversely.
“I believe that the (Goa) Chief Minister ….in his budget speech has said that resumption of mining will be one of his top priorities. In fact, most of the political parties prior to elections have said that resumption of mining is a priority and now that the new government is in place…We are looking at that to ensure that resumption (of mining) can take place,” he said.
According to Goa Barge Owners’ Association’s former President William D’Costa, the mining ban in Goa has impacted the lives of all mining stakeholders, including barge owners.
Barge owners have faced deep financial troubles and the psychological impact is acute.
“One can imagine the trauma when your only source of income to meet your liabilities is blocked. Responsibilities like the education of children and family livelihood can crush you. The possibility of losing your house which is given to banks as collateral can be traumatic,” he said.
Two barge owners unable to face reality committed suicide and three others succumbed to cardiac attacks arising out of stress. “We wonder when normalcy will be restored,” he said.
He is also of the view that a mining ban was not the solution and it was like “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Industry associations in Goa have pitched for the resumption of sustainable mining in the state, saying the ban on mining has adversely impacted livelihoods.
“Recommendations have been made by CII Goa to the centre and the state to resume mining in the state (Goa). CII as an apex industry body strongly recommends the resumption of sustainable mining to bring Goa’s economy back on track. Though great efforts have been put in by various industry bodies in the state, very little has been seen on the ground,” CII Goa State Council Chairperson Swati Salgaocar had said.
Salgaocar had said that under the circumstances, a legislative cure is the only option for a swift resumption of mining which is a source of revenue not only to the government but also for many secondary and tertiary industries in Goa.
Since the mining concessions, which were given for perpetuity under the Portuguese Law, were converted into leases by the Abolition Act 1987, it is only fair that the benefit of tenure of 50 years from the date of grant which is available to leases throughout the country as per the 2015 MMDR Amendment Act, be made available to Goan leases, Salgaocar explained.
Though the leases came into being in 1987, the tenure was made effective retrospectively from 1961 to protect the revenue collected by the state government from 1961 to 1987. The retrospective application of the Abolition Act was struck down by the Bombay High Court and the case is pending before a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court.
The Ministry of Mines has filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking an expeditious hearing in the matter. PTI SID
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