Panaji: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has issued an order revoking suspension of environmental clearances (ECs) to 72 iron ore mines in Goa, giving some boost to the coastal state’s economy. The state was getting almost a quarter of its revenue from the mining industry before it shut down in 2012. After deciding to revoke the suspension a few days ago, the ministry issued a formal order yesterday, but made it clear that violation of mining lease conditions would lead to immediate suspension of ECs again.
The licenses of these 72 mining leases have already been renewed by the state. The environmental clearances were suspended by the then Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan in September 2012 following allegations of rampant illegal mining and environmental degradation in Goa. The order says the ministry has decided to “lift the abeyance of the 72 leases and they would not require any fresh EC”.
It has been signed by Dr U Sridharan, scientist, MoEF. The state’s request to lift the abeyance was examined by the ministry, taking into account recommendations of expert appraisal committee and Supreme Court’s directions, it adds. However, suspension of ECs of 18 mines located in the one-kilometre buffer zone around wildlife sanctuaries has not been revoked.
Further, there are 22 mining leases — named in a list attached to the order — on the forest land, and their ECs too would remain in abeyance until they get “forest clearances”. The ministry has directed the state to develop and implement a credible mechanism to ensure that “capping of 20 million tons per annum of ore extraction is implemented, as suggested by the apex court”. Mining in the forest areas and export of existing ore dumps would not be allowed, it adds.