No blanket ban on iron ore mining

NDA says that the economic interest reigns supreme

New Delhi : The Centre has once again rejected any blanket ban on export of iron and manganese, stressing that it reviews the export of minerals from time to time, keeping in view the economic interest.

It clarified the stand in the context of the last report of the Justice M B Shah Commission that inquired into the illegal mining in Goa. Noting that most of the iron ore extracted from mining leases in Goa is exported to other countries while there is no domestic consumption in the state, the Commission wondered, “Should the country afford such an adventure on the cost of natural beauty and green ecosystem.”

The government referred in this regard the Supreme Court’s April 21 judgment that restricted maximum annual excavation of 20 million tonnes in Goa “in the interest of sustainable development and intergenerational equity.” The Shah Commission had noted that the iron ore export from varied from 14-16 million tonnes, but it started shooting up since 2001-02 to reach a record level of about 46.85 million tonnes.

On most of other findings like illegal excavating, etc., the government has agreed to take actions even while indirectly indicting for giving its findings without giving an opportunity to the parties concerned for natural justice. The 18-page Memorandum on Action Taken on the Commission report tabled in Parliament this week says the Goa Government will take appropriate action as per law after following the principles of natural justice of hearing the parties concerned “as the same has not been followed by the Commission.”

It also discloses that the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) are looking into the direct and indirect tax violations brought out in the Shah Commission report.

The memorandum said the DRI has already taken up investigation under the Customs Act and that out of the six cases selected six cases for detailed investigation even before the Shah Commission’s report and that Fomento Group of Companies and Magnum Minerals Private Limited deposited Rs.30 cr and Rs.11.35 cr respectively during the investigation. The DRI also initiated probe against Salgaocar Group which has already deposited Rs.50 cr.

Orders have been also issued to the Mormugao Port to allow vessels loaded with iron ore to sail only on production of the NOC (no objection certificate) from the Goa government’s Directorate of Mines regarding payment of royalty and certifying that the ore is from legal source.

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