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137 ECCs will be reviewed, no mining inside national parks: Centre tells SC

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that its expert body will review all 137 environment clearance certificates (ECCs), granted to Goa mining firms during 2005-2010, and not allowed miners to re-start extraction inside national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

‘Mines located within the national parks and sanctuaries in Goa will not be allowed to reopen,’ Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, appearing for Ministries of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Mining, told the forest bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik.

‘Each of 137 ECCs will be reviewed on merits by the MoEF and its Expert Appraisal Committee and a report will be filed before the court by third week of October,’ he said, adding that MoEF, which suspended all ECCs after the report of Justice MB Shah panel was tabled in Parliament on 7 September 2012, later also served show cause notices to 49 miners.

During the day-long hearing, the bench, also comprising justices SS Nijjar and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, referred to the provision of the Environment Protection Act and its rules and said, ‘Do we understand that you have not taken any action against them (miners). You see, the Act has given you enormous power yet you are not doing enough’.

‘You can have one regulating committee in each state and this can be done as per the Environment Protection Act,’ the bench said.

‘They (state government) are also to be blamed and we are also to be blamed. No purpose would be served by doing it,’ Parasaran said and put forth the proposed remedial measures to be taken by the MoEF to regulate mining in Goa.

He said that the Shah panel was appointed following various complaints of illegal mining in Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and after receiving the report, all ECCs were suspended.
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