Industry associations call for legislative route to resume mining in Goa

New Delhi- With the BJP getting re-elected in Goa, the call for resuming mining operations in the state has grown louder. It has been four years since mining was stopped in Goa and industry associations claim that the ban has severely hurt the state’s economy, along with adversely affecting people’s livelihoods. According to a recent survey, nearly two in five Goan households have been impacted by the mining ban in some way or the other.

Despite several appeals by different stakeholders to the government in the past, no action has been taken on the ground. In a fresh set of recommendations, CII Goa State Council and Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) have urged to immediately resume sustainable mining to revive the state economy.

Last week, the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) too urged the state and central leadership to act in the matter. In February 2018, the Supreme Court quashed 88 mining leases in Goa, bringing the local iron ore industry to a standstill. The decision affected the livelihoods of over 3 lakh mining dependents in the state.

Recommendations have been made by CII Goa to the Centre and State to resume mining in the State. CII as an apex industry body strongly recommends the resumption of sustainable mining to bring Goa’s economy back on track. Though great efforts have been put in by various industry bodies in the state, very little has been seen on ground.

Since the mining concessions which were given in perpetuity under Portuguese Law were converted into Mining Leases by the Abolition Act 1987, it is only fair that the benefit of a tenure of 50 years from date of grant which is available to leases throughout the country as per the 2015 MMDR Amendment Act, be made available to Goan leases. Though the leases came into being in 1987, the tenure was made effective retrospectively from 1961 to protect the revenue collected by the state government from 1961-1987.

This retrospective application of the Act has been struck down by the High Court and the issue is pending before a 9 judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Ministry of Mines has even filed an application before the Hon’ble Supreme Court urging that the matter be expeditiously heard since till then, no further action can be taken with respect to the leases. Under the circumstances, a legislative cure as suggested above is the only option for a swift resumption of mining which is a source of revenue not only to the government but also to many secondary and tertiary industries in Goa.

It’s also relevant to point out that almost 30 per cent of the sale price of ore produced goes to the State exchequer in the form of royalty, contribution to District Mineral Fund, Iron ore Permanent Fund etc. “There is an urgent need for the authorities to take necessary decisions in the interest and growth of the state” said Swati Salgaocar, Chairperson, CII Goa State Council.

Voicing similar concerns, Ralph De Sousa, President, Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI), said, “Mining is the lifeline of Goan economy. Mining is going on normally all over the Country except goa. It’s up to the Central Govt to restart Mining with proper checks & balances. GCCI strongly feels that the State’s Commerce and Industry needs a boost to get over the current economic lull that is caused due to mining closure for the last 4 years and further worsened with Covid pandemic. The Ukraine war may further affect the business some way or the other. Need of the hour is that both these sectors have to jump start to tide over the economic crisis for overall socio-economic development of the state. We have already represented to the state Government for its immediate attention to resolve the mining matter in a sustainable yet quickest possible manner. GCCI membership is awaiting the opportunity to benefit from mining which will in turn address the unemployment crisis of the state.”

Glenn Kalavampara, Secretary, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association said, “The Wealth of the Minerals are meaningless unless they are extracted, processed & converted into goods, meant for the benefit of mankind. It’s rather unfortunate that despite generating valuable economic returns as well as providing livelihood to many, mining in Goa had been under a constant suspension since Mid-March 2018. Concerned Stakeholders have repeatedly been raising concerns & hopeful of a solution since long. Post 4 years, the stakeholders dependent on the mining operations have only undergone endless pain, depression and anxieties.”

The industry associations have said that mining activities should be immediately resumed in the state to undo the livelihood and economic deadlock and allow Goans to earn a stable income and work for a better future.


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