SC allows transportation of mined minerals in Goa

SC allows transportation of mined minerals in Goa

During the hearing, the court had asked the miners to take all the caution in transportation of the minerals

Representative image (DH Photo)

In a relief to the miners in Goa, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed transportation of extracted minerals, lying at jetties and stockyard, following the prohibition on mining operations on March 15, 2018.

“There is no doubt that the ownership of the ore is that of the party that has raised the ore. We see no reason why the owners should not be allowed to transport their own ore,” a  bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.

The mine leaseholders can undertake it within six months, subject to payment of royalty and other conditions, including on valid transit permits.

According to the Goa government, as much as seven million tonne of iron ore were lying inside and outside the lease area. Of which, 1.5 million tonne were on jetties and 5.17 million tonne inside the lease areas.

The top court set aside the Bombay High Court order of May 5, 2018, and upheld the decision of the Goa government, allowing the transportation of mineral and iron ore, mined prior to March 15, 2018, when the ban was imposed by it.

On a batch of petition filed by Chowgule and Company Pvt Ltd and others, the bench said, “We do not find, that there is any rationale in differentiating between the iron ore which is either at the jetties or at the stockyards or pitheads, if the same is mined prior to prohibition imposed on March 15, 2018.”

In its order on Thursday, the bench also noted, earlier on April 4 and May 11, 2018, it had permitted transportation of ores through the barges and the vessels.

Citing Rule 12(1)(gg) of the Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Minerals) Concession Rules, 2016, the petitioners said that the legislative policy was to grant six calendar months to remove ore mineral extracted from the date of the expiry or sooner termination of the lease term.

Highlights:

* On November 22, 2010, the Union government appointed Justice M B Shah Inquiry Commission to probe rampant exploitation of natural resources in Goa.

* Shah commission gave reports on March 15 and April 25, 2012.

* Goa govt passed an order on September 10, 2012, suspending all mining operations.

* MoEF on Sep 14, 2012, kept in abeyance the environmental clearances granted to 137 mines.

* On a PIL by Goa Foundation, Supreme Court on April 21, 2014, in a judgment held all iron ore and manganese ore leases had expired on November 22, 2007, and any mining operation carried out by the mining leaseholders after that date was illegal.

* On February 7, 2018, the Supreme Court scrapped all mining leases. All existing lessees told to stop mining by March 15, 2018.

* Before that, Goa government granted 88 renewals to mining leases in December 2014 and January 2015, just before the mining law was amended, providing for mandatory auction.

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