India’s biggest producer and exporter of iron ore Sesa Goa Limited (SGL) has been given the ICC Sustainability Vision award, a company statement said, a day after it was pulled up in the state assembly for illegalities in mining operations.
The award, instituted by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), came after Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues told the assembly Wednesday that the Vedanta Resources owned company was indulging in illegal mining in Goa’s several forest areas.
According to SGL’s press statement released Thursday, the ‘national award acknowledged Sesa Goa’s leadership role in implementing the best practices in environmental aspects and creating a sustainable development model for the society at large as a responsible mining company. Eleven of India’s best companies participated in the award category, with Sesa Goa and ITC emerging joint winners in the category’.
‘This award brings additional responsibility for us to face the challenge of sustainable reduction of environmental footprint of mining while ensuring development of the community in which we operate in more holistic and exemplary way and most importantly, with more passion,’ the statement quoted the company’s Managing Director P.K. Mukherjee as saying.
In his written reply to the assembly, Rodrigues said SGL and two other mining companies V.S. Dempo and Company Ltd and Dempo Mining Corporation Ltd — both acquired by SGL in 2009 — were indulging in illegal mining in forest areas in Bicholim and Sanguem taluks of north and south Goa districts respectively.
Three separate complaints were filed against officials of Dempo Mining Corporation and SGL for illegal mining.
In two other instances, the forest department also warned officials of V.S. Dempo and Company against using forest land for transportation of ore and ferrying of trucks in designated forest areas, the reply stated.
Illegal and unchecked mining is a sensitive issue in Goa with both civil society groups and the opposition repeatedly voicing their concern over the issue.
According to data submitted in the assembly last year, ore worth Rs.4,000 crore was illegally mined and exported out of Goa to countries like China, Japan and Romania.
According to Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar, nearly 18 percent of Goa’s total 40 million mining output comprises illegally-mined ore.
He has accused Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and several of his cabinet ministers of being hand-in-glove with the illegal mining mafia.