The fate of 45 mines in Goa hangs in balance as the environmental clearances granted to them by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEf) being expired and Centre imposing a moratorium on fresh approvals.
Adding to their woes is the notices issued by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to all 45 mines asking them “why their consent to operate should not be withdrawn and mining operations on the leases suspended”.
The notices were issued on November 3 and returnable by November 18.
An NGO, Goa Foundation, which had moved the Bombay High Court bench in Panaji seeking closure of the mines violating the norms said “it is doubtful if fresh environment clearances can be issued to all 45 mining leases since there is an existing moratorium on consideration of environmental clearances for mining activities in Goa”.
The stay was imposed in February 2010 by Centre after Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat dashed a missive seeking ban on fresh clearances till the state mining policy is in place.
Similar complaints were also filed by environmentalist Ramesh Gawas and a political activist Khemlo Sawant before GSPCB.
Most of the environmental clearances to the mines were issued between 2005 and 2006.
The coastal State is the biggest exporter of Iron Ore in the country. The State has exported 54 million metric tons of Ore last fiscal, basically to satisfy the growing demand of China’s steel industry.
The issue of Iron Ore mines extracting the ore without valid clearances is also being examined by Justice M B Shah Commission, which is likely to give its detailed report on the illegal mining industry in Goa in a few days.