Ministry orders study on Goa’s controversial mining

August 23rd, 2011 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Aug 23 (IANS) The Jharkhand-based Indian School of Mines (ISM) will conduct a comprehensive study on the environmental impact of the Rs.6,500-crore opencast mining industry in Goa, the Rajya Sabha was informed Tuesday.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan informed Goa’s lone Rajya Sabha MP, Shantaram Naik, Tuesday that the ISM would be granted 18 months to conduct the study and that a budgetary provision of Rs.2.02 crore had been made for it.

Illegal and indiscriminate mining in the forested hinterland of rural Goa has led to conflicts between affected villagers backed by civil society groups and the mining lobby. Nearly 55 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore is extracted from 100-odd leases operated each year.

Last year, indiscriminate mining had forced the then MoEF minister Jairam Ramesh to impose a moratorium on fresh mining proposals, pending a study on their impact on Goa’s environment.

Goa exported nearly 55 million tonnes of low-grade iron ore in the last financial year to countries like China, Japan, and Romania from around 100 mines in the hinterland.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused several cabinet ministers in the Goa government of being involved in the illegal mining trade. According to their leader Manohar Parrikar, nearly 20 percent of Goa’s annual output is illegally mined.

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