GoaChronicle.com brings to its readers the entire report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which was presented to the Supreme Court during its hearing on December 7, 2012…
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has suggested that all leases be surveyed and demarcated for violations, a macro-level environmental impact study be carried out to arrive at a carrying capacity threshold, each of the state’s four main mining talukas be equipped with a cap, and each mine with a reclamation and rehabilitation plan before even legal miners are allowed to resume business.
Meanwhile, all mining operations including trading of extraction of dumps stay banned.
The entire exercise is still on in Karnataka where mining was banned in July 2011. Only one mine has actually resumed operations. Punitive action against erring officials and compensation for defaulting leases will be spelt out by the CEC later.
The Supreme Court had imposed a mining ban in the state on October 5 following a writ petition by Goa Foundation, an environmental action group. The writ was based on allegations of illegal mining from the Shah Commission, a government-appointed probe panel that had estimated a loss of Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining.
The CEC has recommended that Goa should set up a committee to establish how much mineral was produced legally since FY 2005-06 from the returns filed and royalty paid.
The CEC wants Goa to come up with similar environmentally sustainable schemes for overburden dumps. It also wants the state to create a regulatory mechanism that will track storage, transportation and export of iron ore with provision of transit permits before the ore is evacuated from the mines.
The dumps at Goa’s old mines had been piled up outside of the lease areas. These dumps, once considered unviable, now have an export market with improved technology for use of lower-grade ore in steelmaking. The debate was on whether the dumps, too, must be regulated, as mining operations are under plans approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines.
A particular controversy was the go-ahead given to mining within and near wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, despite earlier Supreme Court orders. The Shah Commission had been scathing of the environment ministry’s role in this regard, prompting Minister Jayanti Natarajan to suspend 139 such clearances.
Deeming these approvals (for 19 mines within wildlife sanctuaries and national parks and 23 others within a 1 km radius) guilty of earlier Supreme Court orders, the CEC wants them revoked. The ministry has also been asked to place another 120 leases within 10 km of national parks and sanctuaries before the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife. The court may also consider the validity of such clearances.
The state panel also has three months’ time to ascertain which mines have been run by persons other than the leaseholders or in violation of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, a charge against many of the state’s leading miners.
Goa has also been directed to review 42 leases whose delayed first renewals were condoned, and cancel them if judged not permissible. Further, in a blow to the state’s Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government, which wanted to encash on the state’s low-grade iron ore in view of falling global iron ore prices, mining of overburdened dumps outside lease areas has not been approved.