Mining in Western Ghats will be stopped, says Goa chief minister

July 28th, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, July 28 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Tuesday said the ecologically crucial Western Ghats would not be allowed to be mined.
The assurance from Kamat, who is also the minister for mines, came after sustained protests against illegal mining from the opposition members throughout the monsoon session of the state assembly.

“My government will see that there is no mining activity in the belt of Western Ghats,” Kamat told the state assembly Tuesday evening.

The Western Ghats are a thickly forested mountain range covering the western fringe of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala, which spreads over 60,000 sq km and are regarded as one of the 10 best biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Incidentally, most of Goa’s 100 odd operational mines are located in the forests, which are a part of the Western Ghats’ expanse.

Replying to the debate on rampant mining - both legal and illegal - in the state, a beleaguered Kamat said he had already appointed a high-level committee to spot and immediately nip illegal mining activity in the bud.

“I have told them (the high level committee) that if they find any mines operating illegally, they can stop them right on the spot,” Kamat said.

“The animal cannot distinguish between these boundaries. Mining in such close proximity of forests pushes these animals further away,” Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar said.

Mining of low-grade iron ore and manganese in the less glamorous Goan hinterland is a major industry in the coastal state, even as environmentalists have accused successive state governments of being hand-in-glove with the mining lobby, which extracts nearly 30 million tonnes of ore for exports annually.

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