New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday banned all mining operations and transportation of iron ore in Goa. The order came following a hearing on a PIL filed against resumption of mining operations in the state. Earlier this year, the Directorate of Mines and Geology had temporarily suspended mining operations in all 90 mines in Goa till October 2012.
The move came on the basis of the Justice MB Shah Commission report which estimated Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the last 12 years. The commission found "serious illegalities and irregularities" in mining operations. There had, however, been no ban on the movement of iron ore already produced and stored at ports or in transit.
Mining companies have also been restrained from exporting and selling ores which has already been extracted. A three judge bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam took note of the Commission's report and issued notice to the Centre and State government.
The bench also asked the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee to submit its report on the illegal mining in the state within four weeks. The bench passed the order on a PIL filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, seeking probe in the illegal mining activities in the state.
The state government had on September 10 temporarily suspended all mining operations till October 2012, but the petitioner alleged that suspension did not affect the trade as the private companies are transporting the ores from mines.
A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar decided not to withdraw the suspension till the issues raised by the committee were taken to their logical end. Parrikar was the Leader of Opposition when the PAC headed by him exposed large scale illegalities and irregularities in state's iron ore mining industry.
The court is already seized of the illegal mining cases in Karnataka where, after halting all mining activities for more than year, it had on September 3 allowed operations in only 18 mines out of more than 100 mines where the irregularities were minimum.
(With additional information from PTI)