Goa govt admits to illegal mining
Panaji: Goa government has admitted before the High Court that there has been illegal extraction of iron ore in the state. In an affidavit before Bombay High Court`s Goa bench, Mines and Geology department has said 6,000 tons of iron ore was extracted in excess of Environment Clearance (EC) limits last fiscal.The affidavit is significant as for the first time the state has conceded a violation of rules by the mining industry.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by NGO Goa Foundation. However, Mines and Geology Department`s director, Arvind Lolienkar, who has filed the affidavit, denies there is large-scale violation. The government says that in FY 2009-10, fresh production, or production from excavation, was 34.93 million tons, and production from "rehandling of dumps" was 12.60 million tons.
"In 2010-11, the fresh production is 32.93 million tons and production from dumps is 15.45 million tons," it says, adding that therefore the overall production of fresh excavation has not exceeded the capacity stipulated in the Environmental Clearances. "An exercise was undertaken to verify whether any individual mine has exceed the EC limits…only in one case in 2010-11, production exceeded EC limits by 6,000 tons."
Prior to 2004, ore was exported mainly to Japan, and only the ore of 58 per cent `fe` grade and above had market. "The local mining companies, to meet the higher grade demand, set up beneficiation plants whereby ore was upgraded to 63 per cent fe and above. Any material less than 58 per cent fe was dumped. As a result, dumps came up all over in the mining belt. When China opened its market to the ore of the grade as low as 45 per cent fe, mining companies started rehandling old dumps.
Lolienkar says that because of these "rehandling" of old dumps, the production appears to be in excess of Environmental Clearance limits. The Public Accounts Committee of Goa Assembly has said in its report that Goa government lost revenue of Rs 4,000 crore due to illegal mining in the last five years.