Other States

Panel wants mining capped at 20 million tonnes in Goa

The Supreme Court-appointed committee has expressed the need to regulate the mining that ensures minimum damage to ecological systems of Goa.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee has expressed the need to regulate the mining that ensures minimum damage to ecological systems of Goa.

A Supreme Court-appointed panel of experts has recommended a cap of 20 million tonnes on the per year mining of ore in Goa.

The interim report of the six-member panel, now before the court, speaks of large-scale degradation of landscape, water and soil, an increase in dust pollution and a higher rate of sedimentation of finer particulate matter in the aquatic ecosystems of the State, while recommending that the mining be scaled down.

It highlights higher incidents of health disorders, higher loss of agricultural productivity, extensive degradation of landscape and a greater impact on the hydrological systems in the mining belt.

The committee — comprising ecologist C.R. Babu, geologist S.C. Dhiman, mineralogist B.K. Mishra, Forest Officer S. Parmeshwarappa, State Mines Secretary Parimal Rai and A.K. Bansal, a representative of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests — was initially directed by the court to submit its report on February 15. But the deadline was deferred to March 15.

The interim report says no new mining should be allowed without adequate regulatory and technological measures to ensure restoration of the ecosystem and to minimise damage to forests. It wants a permanent fund created to safeguard “intergenerational equity and sustainability.”

Given the extent of the environmental and ecological damage caused by private miners and to maximise the State’s earnings, the government may consider setting up a mineral corporation or a public limited company, it says.

The interim report caps sustainable mining at a maximum of 27.5 million tonnes. Until a scientific study being done by the panel is complete, mining activity at levels ordered by the court should be strictly monitored and regulated by the State and Central government agencies.

It wants a multi-disciplinary ecological centre established through imposition of a cess on the mining activity and a feasibility study done for setting up pelletization and sintering plants for utilisation of low-grade iron ore.

While Goa Foundation, which is the petitioner, has suggested a gross capping of five million tonnes a year, the mining stakeholders have suggested 45-50 million tonnes.

Chinese steel production boom drove Goa’s iron ore exports to 54 million tonnes and 43 million tonnes during 2010-11 and 2011-12. The Supreme Court banned mining in the State in September 2012 after the Justice M. B. Shah Commission pointed out illegalities in the industry.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 5:48:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states//article60366600.ece