Feb 7: The Supreme Court has directed the Goa Government to stop all existing iron ore mining operations in Goa with effect from 16th March 2018 and issue fresh mining licenses and fresh environmental clearances.
The ruling was made in a special leave petition (SLP) filed by The Goa Foundation against Sesa Sterlite and others. The SC ruling by Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the State of Goa should take all necessary steps to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The Ministry of Environment and Forest should take all necessary steps to grant fresh environmental clearances to those who are successful in obtaining fresh mining leases.
The SC observed that Goa Government had undertaken renewal of mining license was done in undue haste without taking all relevant material into consideration and ignoring available relevant material and therefore not in the interests of mineral development.
Immediately after the amendment to the MMDR Amendment Ordinance 2015 was promulgated by President of India on 12th January, 2015, the Goa Government had renewed 31 licenses while the amended Act had specified competitive bidding for awarding mining projects on expiry of the license period. About 88 licenses were renewed since November 4, 2014, while the MMDR amendments were first uploaded by the Ministry of Mines in their website on 17th November.
It may be recalled that Goa Government had suspended all mining operations on September 10,2012 following the submission of M B Shah Commission report which noted irregularities in iron ore mining and done illegally with the motive of profit and no concern for environment.
The low grade Fe content and high silica content in iron ore mined in Goa resulted in the mined produce being exported in large quantities rather than consumed domestically.