Goa government will soon amend the current rules to give more teeth to enforcement agencies for curtailing illegal mining and related activities in the coastal State.
State Mines and Geology Department Director Arvind Lolienkar said the process to amend ‘Goa Prevention of Illegal Mining and Transportation and Storage of Mineral Rules, 2004’ has already begun.
“The rules would be amended and ready to be implemented by next mining season, starting in October this year,” Mr. Lolienkar said.
Goa has 105 operational mining sites from which 45 million metric tones of iron ore is exported to various countries. Considering the huge demand for iron ore, there are several illegal mining sites that have sprung up creating a massive ecological menace in the tiny State.
As per the government figures, 1.25 crore square metres of land has been diverted for mining purpose during the last three years in the State and the mining mainly happens in Goa’s ecologically sensitive talukas, which are nestled in the Western Ghat region.
Mr. Lolienkar said the State government has decided to properly regulate various stakeholders associated with the mining industry.
As per the new rules, all the trucks working for mining firms would have to be registered with the mines department.
Also, ships carrying iron ore from different jetties will also have to be registered with the mining department, he said.
The State is also contemplating the possibility of making mine owners responsible for the overloading of minerals done by the trucks.
“There are several amendments that would be executed. The rules will make everybody responsible including mine owners,” Mr. Lolienkar said.
Goa Prevention of Illegal Mining and Transportation and Storage of Mineral Rules, 2004, which were originally meant to register the traders in the mining sector will now cover all the stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Sirigao villagers in North Goa, who have been fighting a battle against illegal mining in their village for a long time, have now turned to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev to voice their grievance
Sirigao Communidade, one of the State’s oldest village institutions, has decided to petition Ramdev and Hazare detailing their plight due to illegal mining.
The move comes after their string of letters, memorandums and petitions filed before almost all authorities in the State government went unnoticed.
“We tried everything but failed. Now, we will seek intervention of these national leaders,” Sadanand Gaonkar, a village leader, told PTI.
He said a letter will be sent to Ramdev today while they will wait for Hazare’s scheduled visit to drive his attention to the issue.
Swami Ramdev has already pledged his support for the anti-illegal mining campaign by holding a rally in the State recently.
Sirigao, a village located 35 kms northeast of Panaji, fears to lose its existence to the mines.
Mr. Gaonkar said the entire issue of illegal mining is directly connected to the corrupt system as officials have turned a blind eye towards these illegalities.
Communidade, a body of villagers formed during Portuguese rule in the State, had submitted a memorandum to Chief Secretary accusing the mining firms of grabbing their land illegally.
The Communidade had claimed that the mining firms have acquired more property than what they were allotted in the village by bribing government officials some years back.
In a communication to State Chief Secretary, they had urged the State to act against these mining firms, which can now be prosecuted as per recent Supreme Court directives.
“The properties coming under mining leases are house property, agriculture property, water bodies, temple property and the maximum property belongs to Sirigao Communidade,” the letter signed by its members had said.