Goa's mining belt observes bandh
Panaji: Markets and educational institutions remained shut in the mining belt of Goa on Tuesday as part of a bandh called by a group demanding resumption of iron ore extraction activities in the state.
The Goa Mining People's Front (GMPF), an umbrella group of mining dependents whose livelihood has been affected, earlier gave the call for the day-long bandh in those areas where iron ore extraction was held before the suspension of such activities.
GMPF president Puti Gaonkar said markets and schools and colleges in the mining-dominated areas of Bicholim (North Goa district), and Quepem, Sanguem and Dharbandora talukas (all in South Goa district) remained closed since morning.
Public transport and pharmacies were exempted from the bandh, he said.
"No one was forced to shut their establishments.
People have seen the negative impact of suspension of mining and they voluntarily participated in the protest. Everyone wants mining to resume," Gaonkar said.
The mining operations, a key source of revenue to the government, came to a standstill in March last year following a Supreme Court order which quashed 88 mining leases.
The BJP-led state government earlier requested the Centre to amend the existing mining laws during the recently concluded session of Parliament so that leases get extended.
The GMPF had in December last year staged three-day protests in New Delhi demanding resumption of mining activities in the state.
BJP parliamentarians from Goa and GMPF representatives recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi over the issue.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar during a cabinet meeting earlier this month said the BJP-led state government will itself have to work out a solution to the mining crisis.