Goa will fight mining ban in court of law, says Minister

Panaji, Feb 21 : The Goa government may file a review petition against the cancellation of 88 mining leases by the Supreme Court earlier this month, Public Works Department Minister Sudin Dhavalikar hinted on Wednesday.

The Minister's statement came amid attacks from the MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other parties, who alleged that the state's coalition government is not doing enough to tackle the crisis.

"We intend to fight the battle in court of law," said Dhavalikar, who is standing in for ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, in response to the concerns raised by MLAs across party lines about the problems caused due to the cancellation of 88 mining leases from March 15, on the direction of the apex court.

"State government shall take all necessary steps to uphold rule of law and carry out social responsibility to the best of its capability," Dhavalikar said, adding that a formal decision on the issue would be taken after consulting all stakeholders.

On February 7 this year, the Supreme Court cancelled all the existing iron ore mining leases in Goa and ordered that the mining tracts be leased afresh, to new licencees, after obtaining new environmental clearances.

As per the order, all ore extraction activity on the renewed leases should stop by March 15.

Goa is the country's leading exporter of low-grade iron ore and exported nearly 50 million tonne before the Shah Commission in 2012 exposed a Rs 35,000-crore scam, triggering a ban on mining in the state.

On Thursday, most BJP and Congress MLAs opposed auctioning of mines, claiming the auctioning process would cause delay and mining companies from outside Goa would exploit the state's resources.

BJP MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo told the legislative assembly, which is having its budget session, that he would sit on a hunger strike if efforts are not made to resume mining at the earliest.

"I will sit on a hunger strike, if the government cannot start mining.

Government will have to give us a time-bound assurance. Delegation of all 40 MLAs should go to the Centre to get it done," Lobo said.



Source: IANS