Mining dumps in Goa the next Congress-BJP battleground? (With Image)September 5th, 2012 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS
Panaji, Sep 5 (IANS) Till recently it was considered mining waste - all 700 million tonnes of it. With technology now available to extract low grade ore from the waste, these mountain-like heaps have emerged as the next battleground between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government and the Congress-led central government.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been aggressively pushing the idea of mining the dumps, which according to rough estimates are worth several billion US dollars, but the union ministry for environment and forests has put a spanner in his works.
“It came to the notice of the ministry that mining from low grade ore/rejects dumps is being carried out in the state of Goa without obtaining requisite prior environment clearance,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
The mining dumps, along a 90-km belt stretching from northeast Goa to the southeast, have been created over the decades. They were not processed at the time because of feasibility issues. A recent boom in iron ore demand and newer technologies have made harvesting of the low grade reject ore easier, according to the Goa government and the state’s mining industry.
Jayanthi Natarajan further said in response to a question posed by Goa Congress MP Shantaram Naik that a team from the ministry would be visiting Goa to inspect whether the dumps are being mined.
“The state government has stated that though they are yet to form their opinion (on dump mining), as per the legal opinions available with them, quantity of ore sold, proposed to be sold, from the existing dumps/rejection stacks/overburden does not require fresh permission/clearance from the ministry and that no environment clearance is required while removing the mineral ore dumps, whether by the state government or by the mining lessee,” said the minister, spelling out the argument put forth by Parrikar.
BJP legislators, especially those involved in the mining trade like Nilesh Cabral (Curchorem), have been vocal about mining of dumps, which was banned by the previous Congress-led coalition government of Digambar Kamat.
Parrikar, who has been vocal against illegal mining in Goa, is now himself an active supporter of dump mining, claiming this would free land for agriculture.
“Goa is a small state with a limited quantity of land being available for farming and tourism. With the present government focussing on farm growth, liberating the lands that are bearing mineral dumps will provide a much-needed boost to farming,” says the draft mineral policy drawn up by the mines ministry headed by the chief minister.
Parrikar’s draft mining policy has been criticised by Naik. “The (draft) Mineral Policy 2012 announced by the government is deceptive and a legal fiction in the sense that most of the things mentioned in the policy can be implemented without the policy,” Naik told IANS.
Greens in Goa claim that the Parrikar government has sold out on the very promises made by the BJP during the 2012 election campaign when the party rode to power.
“The government cannot make deals to sell the people’s iron ore cheap and let the benefits go to a few miners,” renowned green activist Claude Alvares said, adding the government had a “newfound love” for the mining industry. Alvares also claimed that harvesting the mining dumps would come at a heavy environmental cost.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Jayanthi Natarajan to arrive in Goa amidst mining controversy - Sep 05, 2012
- Parrikar dares Centre to find, shut illegal Goa ore mines - Sep 05, 2012
- Surprise in store for Natarajan: Parrikar - Sep 06, 2012
- Environment clearance of 93 Goa mines suspended (Second Lead) - Sep 12, 2012
- Nearly 50 percent of Goa mines working illegally: Mines ministry - Oct 28, 2011
- Probe against officials for illegal mining in Goa - Sep 03, 2012
- Goa's draft mining policy soft on capping ore extraction (Goa Newsletter) - Aug 10, 2012
- Ministry orders study on Goa's controversial mining - Aug 23, 2011
- Central government to blame for illegal mining: Parrikar (Lead) - Jul 23, 2012
- Goa temporarily suspends all mining operations - Sep 10, 2012
- Parrikar flip-flop: Says no illegal mining in Goa - Jul 16, 2012
- Environment clearance of 93 Goa mines suspended - Sep 12, 2012
- Reduce mining in Goa to one-third: Panel - May 21, 2012
- Illegal mining report looms large over Goa (Goa Newsletter) - Mar 17, 2012
- Iron ore export from Goa to dip next fiscal: Exporters body - Oct 04, 2011
Tags: bharatiya janata party, bjp, chief minister, dumps, environment clearance, goa congress, goa government, grade ore, iron ore, jayanthi, jayanthi natarajan, legal opinions, manohar parrikar, mineral ore, newer technologies, rajya sabha, rough estimates, shantaram, state of goa, union ministry