A day after the Goa government temporarily halted mining and ordered a probe on the basis of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission’s report that highlighted “serious illegalities and irregularities,” the Centre on Tuesday asked the State to immediately restrict activities of mining companies relating to minerals removal from dumps outside the lease areas.
The country’s second biggest iron ore producer which supplies about 50 million tonnes a year, Goa has around 37 dumps, a majority belonging to such mining majors as Dempo, Sesa Goa and Fomento, says the State government. “The State government should immediately restrict all activities for the removal of minerals from the dumps located outside the lease areas, till an appropriate mechanism is evolved and the Central government’s approval is obtained… [for a plan for]… such dump removal activity,” the Union Ministry of Mines said in a communication to the State.
The directive follows the tabling in Parliament last week of the Commission’s report that recommended that dumping of minerals or any subsequent work be done only with proper permission and approval of the Indian Bureau of Mines and clearance from the State government department concerned. “It is requested that suitable orders be issued to all officers… to ensure strict compliance. The Goa government may… initiate suitable action and furnish an action taken report in the matter,” the report said.
The report also recommended that the State governments upload information on leases on their websites to introduce transparency, and that leases granted through auction to cut corruption. Natural resources, iron ore especially, had made a few persons, having leasehold mining interests for decades, billionaires, it said.
The Ministry of Mines has said the issue of leases auction has been included in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, which has been referred to a parliamentary panel.