Javadekar said the Goa government will now have to decide on ore extraction limits for individuals mines in the state, so that extraction does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes
In a major development which could bring cheer to Goa's multi-crore-rupee mining sector, Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said his ministry has decided to revoke its 2012 order that held in abeyance environment clearances granted to all mining leases operating then in Goa.
Speaking to reporters at Parliament House, Javadekar said the Goa government will now have to decide on ore extraction limits for individuals mine in the state, so that extraction does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes set by the Supreme Court for all mining output generated in the state.
"We have decided to lift the abeyance of mines in Goa by following all Supreme Court directives. The ministry, in an earlier decision in the wake of the MB Shah Commission report, had suspended all mining. That had created unemployment and created a loss of income to the country," he said.
Incidentally, a committee formed to examine the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for individual mining leases, which was the basis on which environment clearances were granted, said in a study that nearly all the EIAs were bogus and did not reflect a lot of flora, fauna and natural resources present on the ground.
Javadekar's announcement came on the eve of zila panchayat elections in Goa. Sustained mining closure has been one of the major poll issues.
In September 2012, then environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan during a visit to Goa suspended environment clearances granted to 93 mining leases at the time.
Her decision came only days after then chief minister Manohar Parrrikar had already temporarily suspended mining operations following the revelation of a Rs35,000-crore mining scam by the Justice MB Shah Commission.
Goa's mining sector has been non-operational for more than two years because of the three successive actions, which include temporary suspension of mining permission by the then Parrikar-state government, a revocation of green clearances by the Natarajan-led union ministry, and then a subsequent ban by the Supreme Court following the mammoth mining scam.
While the state government lifted the temporary suspension last year, and the Supreme Court revoked the ban in April 2014, the ministry's decision now clears the last technical hurdle in resumption of mining.
According to Defence Minister and former Goa chief minister Parrikar, who was also present during the brief interaction with Javadekar, it was now up to the mining industry players to ensure resumption of mining at the earliest.
"Now it is up to the mining industry to get the required air and water pollution permissions and start," Parrikar said.
Javdekar added: "We have cleared the last hurdle for resumption of mining. It is up to the (mining) industry now."