Panaji, Sep 30 (IANS) The Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), an organisation representing the interests of lakhs of mining workers in the coastal state and whose livelihoods have been hit by the mining ban imposed since February last year, have expressed anger over not being consulted in the process of decision-making to restart mining in Goa.
GMPF President Puti Gaonkar said that a Secretary-level committee was formed by the Central government in order to suggest how to commence mining operations in 124 mines, including the mines in Goa.
“I have been in several Pay Commissions, but here we are not even allowed to represent or even present our case,” Gaonkar said.
The Supreme Court had, on February 7, 2018, passed an order cancelling 88 iron ore mining leases in Goa which has resulted in affecting the livehood of lakhs of mining workers and their dependents.
The Justice M.B. Shah Commission, constituted to inquire into large-scale illegal mining of iron ore and manganese had estimated in its report that the loss to the state exchequer due to illegal mining, amounted to around Rs 35,000 crore, apart the environmental damage.
“The Commission has identified encroachment by lease holders outside the mining lease area granted to them on the basis of superimposition of hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) data on lease boundary on the Google Earth Map, and has recommended action against the violators,” the Commission said in its report.
It also noted that there was no coordination between the Department of Mines in the of Goa government and the Goa State Pollution Control Board, while the data maintained by them showed up contradictions on the total number of actual working mines in the state.
“Such contradiction in record reveals inefficient administration and lack of field inspection by these agencies,” the report said.
More importantly, the commission had “observed violation of Environment and Forest laws in mining of iron ore in the eco-sensitive zone in Goa, which shows the failure of the state government in discharging its duties imposed..”
(Ravi Dutta Mishra was in Goa at the invitation of the Goa Mining People’s Front. He can be reached at [email protected])