Will hear experts on saving mineral resources: SC

Will hear experts on saving  mineral resources: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would consider the submissions of experts and the government, instead of a mining firm, on the principle of inter-generational equity for exploiting minerals in such a way that they remain for future generations as well.

"We will not hear you (Sesa Goa, a Vedanta group firm involved in iron ore extraction and export) on this...Business lobbies are influencing the policies and even the judiciary," a forest bench comprising justices A K Patnaik, S S Nijjar and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla said.

NGO Goa Foundation, which had filed the PIL on the alleged illegal iron ore extraction in Goa, had also taken the plea that there should be a cap on maximum limit of mining as the minerals needed to be preserved for future generations also in pursuance of principle of intergenerational equity.

The court told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for Sesa Goa, that there is separate chapter in political science on pressure groups and lobbyists and it would consider the findings and submissions of the experts and government bodies on the principle of intergenerational equity.

During the day-long hearing, Sesa Goa, the largest producer and exporter of iron ore in the country, said the court should allow the export of mined iron ore which are lying as wastes at various mines in Goa.

"The court may put any condition as it deem fit and allow the export of iron ore which are lying. The year-long ban on mining may also affect the export license of the mining companies," Rohatgi said.

The senior lawyer also assailed the findings of the Justice M B Shah panel on dumps saying it was portrayed as if all the dumps were illegal on the ground that they were outside the leased mining area.

Rohatgi also said the iron ore reserve in the country has increased because of new technologies and it was wrong that they would get exhausted.

"This is an alarmist theory," he said, adding that during 1940s, the same alarmist theory was flagged in Australia that iron ore would be exhausted and this led to a situation where the demand of Australian iron ore decreased.

The court would resume final hearing in the case on October 3. Earlier, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had said its expert body will review all 137 environment clearance certificates (ECCs) granted to Goa mining firms during 2005-2010.
It had also said that it will allow miners to re-start extraction inside national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The MoEF had also conceded most of the ECCs, granted to Goa mining firms, were "indefensible". The forest bench had on October 5 last year halted mining operations in all the 90 mines in Goa considering the Justice Shah Commission report that had indicted almost all miners saying illegal extraction of iron ore during the last 12 years had caused a loss of Rs 35,000 crore to the state exchequer.

The court had recently started hearing the PIL after Sesa Goa sought an early decision on the issue.

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