Supreme Court quashes all mining leases in Goa

Sesa Sterlite iron ore mine in Codli village in Goa.Credit:Reuters  Krishna Das

"I will seek legal advice and come out with a written statement in two days". More than a month's time is available. "The order is not applicable (from) tomorrow... let me read the order properly".

"How can I speak about its implications?"

"Chief Minister Parrikar who holds the Mines portfolio is fully responsible for this negligence to deal with various mining issues". "Many of you may not be aware of the 1987 case". "We are settibg aside the state government's order", the bench of the apex court said in its order.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the BJP government in Goa and scrapped all mining leases granted in the state in an arbitrary manner and directed the government to grant fresh mining leases.

"Rapacious and rampant exploitation of our natural resources is the hallmark of our iron ore mining sector - coupled with a total lack of concern for the environment and the health and well-being of the denizens in the vicinity of the mines", a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

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Later, some companies approached the Bombay HC seeking directions for the state government to renew their leases.

Goa exported over 50 million tons of iron ore annually, before the Shah Commission report exposed the illegal mining scam, implicating government agencies and almost all major mining industrial houses, along with then Congress CM Digambar Kamat and key bureaucrats.

However, activists have long complained about the environmental harm caused by such activities and have been seeking a ban on mining in Goa. Apart from contending to the petitioner's demand seeking the quashing of the mining permits, it also directed the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to calculate the amount to be recovered from companies which operated using the illegally acquired licenses.

"If the court has come down heavily on those in mining trade, the real culprits are those who failed to interpret the law to protect the mining industry, and here it is the present Mines Minister who is exclusively responsible", State Congress President Shantaram Naik told reporters here.

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