Current Affairs

MoEF blames Goa Govt for Mining Mess

The Union Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) in its counter reply before the Apex Court, in the Goa Foundation writ petition, said that it had issued several office memorandum to the state forest department making “it explicitly clear that for proposals located within 10 kms from Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks etc, the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife is essential.”

The ministry said that it had issued directions for closure and suspension of environmental clearances to five mining projects in the State for violation of conditions in the environmental clearance letter and based on the report submitted by its Regional Office.

Show Cause Notices were also issued to 49 mining “project proponents in Goa, based on the report submitted by the Regional Office of the Respondent No 1 at Bangalore for Violations of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It also told the court that 139 environmental clearances were suspended in Goa considering the Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry report after it mentioned the shortcomings in these cases. It promised an “appropriate decision” after a detailed scrutiny of each of the case.

The MoEF reply said that the Centre is to place the responses of the leaseholders before an Expert Appraisal Committee “separately constituted for examining the documents submitted by the project proponents, case by case, and would also assess status of compliance with respect to conditions stipulated as part of environmental clearance.”

The MoEF reply also said that the state has been “requested” to work out “with the best possible accuracy, the distances of the periphery of these mines from different wildlife sanctuaries by taking the help of high resolution NRSA satellite images, maps followed by ground truthing.”

It pointed out that a project proposal for environmental clearance involving forest land is appraised in a separate and parallel process to both wildlife clearance and forest clearance and that environmental clearance is accorded after the First Stage.

Also forest clearance under the Forest (clearance) Act, 1980 has been granted in case of projects located within 10 kms distance of a wildlife sanctuary / national park, based on the recommendation of the EAC, environmental clearance is accorded subject to obtaining clearance from the Standing `Committee of the National Board for Wildlife as- per the procedure being adopted. “That the onus is on the project proponent to submit application and obtain Wildlife Clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as the environmental clearance process is a parallel exercise and independent of other statutory clearances,’ the MoEF affidavit says.

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