Auctioning leases the only way out: Goa govt on mining ban

A cabinet committee in Goa is of the view that auctioning the mining leases is the only way to resolve the crisis in the mining industry.

The cabinet advisory committee's members - Sudin Dhavalikar, Vijai Sardesai and Francis D'Souza - met yesterday to discuss what steps the state government needed to take to help the mining industry and its stakeholders.

The panel also resolved to file a review petition in the Supreme Court (SC) in connection with the mining issue.

The SC had last month quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa in 2015.

The apex court said it was giving time till March 15 to mining lease holders, who have been granted a second renewal in violation of its previous directions, to manage their affairs.

They are directed to stop all mining operations with effect from March 16, until fresh mining leases (not fresh renewals or other renewals) are granted and fresh environmental clearances are granted, the court had said.

Goa's senior minister Dhavalikar said today that the state has no other option but to auction the mining leases.

"Nobody can stop the auction as there is a Supreme Court order...we cannot ignore it," he told reporters here.

Dhavalikar, however, said the state government will examine the implications of the auctioning process as the interest of people dependent on this industry needs to be protected.

Sardesai also agreed to Dhavalikar's view, but cautioned that the auctioning of leases "should not be done at the cost of people dependent on the mining industry."

"What is option before us? We have to go as per the apex court, which is supreme in the country," he said.

Sardesai said while taking any stand in the matter, the priority should be to ensure that locals are not out of business.

D'Souza also said auctioning of leases seems to be the only option, but added that a final call on the issue has to be taken by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Parrikar is currently in the US for a medical treatment.

Before leaving Goa, the chief minister had formed the cabinet advisory committee to guide the state administration on various matters in his absence.

The fresh extraction of ore from the mining leases will stop from tonight, as per the SC directives.

The state mines and geology department has drawn a detailed plan to stop the fresh extraction of ore, its transportation and also moving out of the machinery from the mining sites.


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