Apex court stops Goa from restarting mining
Mining activities, including transportation of ore from stockyards remain suspended
A forest bench led by Justice Aftab Alam directed that all mining operations in the state would remain stayed and transportation of piles of iron ores in mines and stockyards would be suspended till further orders.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, which pointed out several illegalities into mining leases as revealed in Justice M B Shah’s report estimating a loss of Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer since 2000.
Issuing notice to the Centre and state governments, the bench, also comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, directed the Union government’s mining secretary and Goa’s chief secretary to provide all information to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).
The CEC was told by the court to submit a report within four weeks.Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, contended that with the submission of Justice Shah’s report, the mining operation was suspended but Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently issued a statement that it could resumed after Diwali.
He said that the report by Justice Shah which estimated Rs 35,000 crore loss to the exchequer due to illegal mining since 2000, was presented in Parliament in September, though it was submitted in March. It was a different matter that the mining secretary was removed after tabling of report, he said.A counsel, appearing for Goa, submitted that mining operations have already been suspended in the state while a committee has been set up to look into illegal mining.
He also said that the environmental clearance into all the mining leases were granted by the Central government.Senior advocate A D N Rao, appearing for the CEC, also urged the court to stop transportation of iron ores.
Justice Shah Commission was appointed in 2010.The report which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on September 7 had alleged that all sorts of illegal mining were taking place in Goa, resulting in degradation of environment.Two days after Justice Shah’s report was tabled in Lok Sabha, the environment and forests ministry issued show cause notices to 42 mining companies under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Following this all mining activities were temporarily suspended till October.