Amid a debate on Goa’s failure to check illegal mining, the State Mines and Geology Department has said it will be unable to track iron ore movements in the State for at least three months, as setting up the required monitoring infrastructure will take time.

In an affidavit filed before the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court, the department said they are contemplating the possibility of installing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on the trucks and at vital points, including jetties, where ore is loaded on to ships.

“For the installation of the system and making it operational all at one time on an initial basis for the whole of Goa would require not less than three months, since it will involve installation of infrastructure, building up of software and training the staff for supervision at the site,” Director of Mines and Geology Arvind Lolienkar said.

The department, which has been accused of turning a blind eye to the illegal mining trade, conceded before the court that large-scale mineral transportation takes place within a radius of 30 km in the State, with 48 million tonnes of ore moved in 2010-11.

“It is difficult to keep accurate and timely checks on a day-to-day basis on the transportation of ore,” the department said.

Pitching for RFID as an optimal method for checking transportation of ore, they said this system will make mineral ore transportation monitoring a foolproof system, with no scope for tampering and manipulation of details.

“The system involves installation of a unit at the mine exit weigh-bridge where the truck moving out from the mine will be recorded on the system, giving the weight carried by the truck, the time of departure and other incidental details, for example, the truck number,” the affidavit reads.

Upon reaching its destination, the RFID tag on the truck would record the time of arrival and the quantity being carried.

This RFID system will give details of all the ore that leaves mines, received at various processing and beneficiation plants and transported to jetties, thus covering the entire loop from the mine site up to the time of loading on to ships, the officials said.

Goa’s iron ore industry has been put under the scanner by the Justice M B Shah Commission, which is expected to submit its report on illegal activities by the last week of this month or early next month.