Panaji: With just two days left for the Supreme Court order on closure of mining activity in Goa to come into effect, industry stakeholders are worried as the government is yet to find a solution to the impending crisis.
With 2 days left for SC ban, Goa mining stares at crisis
The mining industry stakeholders, who are concerned about the uncertainty hovering over their means of livelihood, met state transport minister Sudin Dhavalikar on Monday and demanded that the government seek the Centre's intervention in the matter.
Dhavalikar said he would approach the Union government for help in resolving the matter.
"We will be able to find a solution to the crisis by March 31," the minister told the stakeholders.
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 said.
The stakeholders in the mining industry include truck owners, who transport the ore from extraction sites to jetties located along the river side.
Nilkant Gawas, the president of All Goa Truck Owners Association, said on Tuesday that so far the state government had not come out with any solution to the crisis.
"We need to know what is going to happen after March 15. People can't be left in the lurch," he said.
"We are waiting and watching but we also know that there's no solution in sight," Gawas said.
Dhavalikar had earlier said the government feared losses to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore annually and down-scaling of nearly two lakh jobs, if the mining industry stopped forever.
Meanwhile, the state government has decided to strictly implement the Supreme Court's order.
The mines and geology department has asked the mining leases to stop ore extraction activity from 7 pm on March 15.
As far as the mining machinery and other movable and immovable properties of lease holders are concerned, it will be dealt with in accordance with provisions of the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act 1957, it said.
"The extraction of ore has already been stopped by most of mine owners after the court order. Only six to seven small-time players are right now involved in the extraction of ore," a senior official of the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association said.
He also expressed concern over no solution being worked out to ward off the crisis in the mining industry.
Goa has a limit of extracting 20 million metric tonnes of ore annually.
The total ore production for the financial year 2017-18 stood at 10.41 million tonnes, as per data provided by the directorate of mines and geology. The production period is restricted to eight months in a year — from January to May, and from October to December.