Panaji, July 2 . Mining of iron ore will resume on a much more comprehensive scale after the monsoons, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said on Saturday, adding that if mine-owners co-operate in building ore transportation infrastructure, the state government would request the apex court to increase the extraction cap from 20 million tons to 30 million tons.
Speaking to IANS on Saturday, Parsekar also maintained that the “good old days”, when it was considered ok to let the government draft rules favourable to the mining industry and let people suffer because of pollution and other side-effects of mining and ore transportation, were long gone.
“I agree mining is not at its best right now which is due to global slump of the market. But I am sure after monsoons the next season will be full-fledged.
“I met mine owners and said mining corridors should be built at their initiative. Mine owners themselves can do it. They can do it cheaper and better. They have all the equipment. If they do this then we can seek to increase the mining extraction cap from 20 to 25 or 30 (million tons),” he said.
Mining corridors are dedicated tracks which were envisaged by the state government solely to be used for transportation of iron ore to avoid dust pollution and vehicular accidents involving iron ore trucks, which is a common feature on the roads in the mining belt and often leads to agitations and blockage of traffic.
“Earlier people have tolerated, now no one will. It is wrong to think that people should tolerate and the government will do everything (asked by the mining lobby), no one should stay under this impression. Those who do, are living in fool’s paradise,” Parsekar also said.
“I don’t know when was the last time mine owners would come to the Secretariat like common citizens. I have been seeing it happen only for the last one or two years. They came immediately after I called them,” Parsekar said, who also holds the mines portfolio.
All mining activity was banned in Goa since 2012 following multiple closure orders from the state government, and central government, before it was eventually banned by the Supreme Court in the same year, after the Justice M.B. Shah Commission exposed a Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam in Goa’s mining sector.
The ban was lifted and mining eventually resumed in 2015, but private mining companies who operate mining leases in Goa have now cited falling global prices of iron ore as an impediment towards restarting ore extraction and export on a full scale basis.
Only around 20 per cent of the existing mining mining leases are currently operational.