‘25 mn tonnes illegal ore extracted in five years in Goa’

November 23rd, 2011 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Panaji, Nov 23 (IANS) Over 25 million tonnes of illegal iron ore has been extracted by over-zealous mining companies out of Goa over the last five years, a green NGO which has been campaigning against rampant mining in the state said Wednesday.

Goa Foundation, one of the top green organisations in the country, has also called for nationalisation of the burgeoning mining industry in Goa, which has been accused of a Rs.25,000 crore scam by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party.

“Since 2006-10, 13.47 million tonnes of ore was extracted above the permissible capacity, as specified in the Environment Clearance (EC) limits. In 2010-11, the illegal extraction figure touched the 12.24 million tonnes mark,” said Claude Alvares who heads Goa Foundation.

Claiming that mining firms have been earning profits shamefully at the cost of the environment, the activist stated that iron ore worth Rs.22,612 crore had been exported from the state.

“The bulk of this money has been earned by five to six mining companies including Sesa Group, Fomento Resources, Timblo Group of Industries, Chowgules, Salgaoncars,” he said.

“Ore is national wealth. The central government should nationalise the mining in Goa and let the nation enjoy the wealth instead of private mine owners,” he said.

The organised mining industry in Goa represented by the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) had blamed ‘fly by night’ exporters and iron ore traders for illegal mining, claiming that the GMOEA members, which has the who’s who of Goa’s mining barons on its list, were above board.

“The Association doesn’t deny that there are certain illegalities in the mining sector and in particular in the spectrum of exports in this state,” said P.K. Mukherjee, Managing Director, Sesa Goa Limited, which is a member of the GMOEA.

“However, a blanket ban on the industry can never be a solution as it will lead to destabilisation of Goa’s economic apparatus. These social and economic dimensions need to be addressed before arriving at any decision about the future of this industry,” he added.

The BJP has claimed that Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and several other ministers in the Congress led coalition government were responsible for the Rs.25,000 crore illegal mining scam in Goa.

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