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Supreme Court Cancels 88 Iron Ore Mining Leases Renewed by Goa Government

The state government will have to auction mining leases to companies which have obtained fresh environmental clearances
Supreme Court Cancels 88 Iron Ore Mining Leases Renewed by Goa Government

In a major setback to the BJP government in Goa, the Supreme Court today quashed 88 iron ore mining leases renewed in 2015. The bench comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta held that the mining leases granted by the state government were in violation of its previous decisions and directions.

Unfortunately, the state is unable to stop violations of the law and other illegalities, perhaps with a view to maximize revenue, but without appreciating the long-term impact of this indifference”, the judgment said in the Goa foundation (NGO) versus Sesa Sterlite limited and others.

According to the order issued by the apex court, all iron ore mining operations in the state must cease by March 15, and the state will auction the leases to companies which will have fresh environmental clearances (EC). Thus in order to procure fresh ECs, the miners have to comply with procedures such as screening, scoping, public consultation and appraisal as envisaged under the EIA notification of 2006.

The court also directed the setting up of a Special Investigation Team along with a team of chartered accountants in order to recover the amount from the mining companies which were allowed to extract the ore in violation of the law, so far.

Prashant Bhushan, the lawyer for the Goa Foundation, wrote on his Twitter account saying “Kudos to the Supreme Court for cancelling 88 iron ore licenses” and added that the renewal granted by the BJP led Goa government was “worse than Coalgate and bigger scam”.

The cancelled iron ore mining leases include that of billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Sesa Sterlite limited (Vedanta Resources), one of the biggest iron ore miners in the state with over one-quarter of total mining was under it.

Following the judgment, the shares of Vedanta declined by nearly two percent, Economic Times reported.

Earlier in October 2012, the apex court had barred all mining and transportation activities in the state, following a report by Justice MB Shah Commission, which revealed the millions of tonnes of illegal iron ore mining operations in the state.

The mining belt of Goa covers an area of about 700 sq. km which is known for producing low-quality iron ore and the mining waste produced from it is one the main sources of environmental pollution in the state.



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