New Delhi : Borrowing from September 2011 order on the Karnataka iron ore mines, the Supreme Court on Monday gave a go-ahead for e-auctioning of 11.46 million tonnes of the extracted iron ores in Goa lying in dumps since it banned all mining activities in the state in October last year.
The e-auction will take place under the supervision of a committee appointed by the apex court. The SC has also set-up another 6-member expert committee to recommend a cap on further mining, keeping in mind the sustainable development.
In an interim order, the 3-judge green bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik constituted a 3-member monitoring committee, including a representative to be named by the Goa chief secretary, to oversee the e-auction while rejecting the state government’s plea for the simple auction of the dumps.
Karnataka’s Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest U V Singh and former member Central Board of Direct Taxes M Sheikh are the two other members of the committee.
The member to be appointed by the Chief secretary would not be less than the rank of the Joint secretary at the Centre, the court said.
The proceeds from the sale of the dumps will be kept in separate fixed deposit accounts by the Goa government till the apex court issues a final order on the matter and the committee was directed to file its report of the e-auction before the Supreme Court by February 15.
The interim report was also sought by February 15 from the other committee that will carry out the ‘macro environment impact assessment study’ to suggest the cap to be imposed on the quantum of mining every year keeping in view the inter-generational equity.
Mining was banned in the state on October 5, 2013 on a petition by Goa Foundation on the basis of the Shah Commission report alleging gross irregularities and loss of some Rs.35,000 cr, meanwhile, remains.
The Bench, which also included Justices S S Nijjar and Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, said the 6-member expert committee for suggesting cap on mining would consist of an ecologist, a geologist, a mineralogist, an expert on forests, and one member each nominated by State-owned NMDC alone has an unsold lump stock of about two mt, the Goa Chief Secretary and the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The court sought the names of the ecologist, geologist, mineralogist and an expert on forest as also representatives of the chief secretary and environment secretary within one week and these would be incorporated in the order next Monday on November 18. It also made it clear that the traveling and other expenses, including remuneration, of the members of the two committees who are not in the government services would be drawn from the money that would come from e-auctioning of the iron ores.