Parrikar seeks Congress support to resume mining in Goa

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Panaji, July 26 (IANS) Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday appealed to the Congress high command, as well as to the opposition party leaders in Goa to back an amendment to a central act, which will help restart mining in Goa, which has been banned since February this year.

“We can go for a request provided everyone supports and the Congress in Delhi supports. After that I will go to Delhi and talk to the person concerned,” the Chief Minister said while replying to a debate on the mining issue.

Parrikar said that the state government would request the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre to amend the Goa, Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987, passed by Parliament to bypass the Supreme Court’s order and extend the validity of Goa’s mining leases.

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“It is the only lasting solution,” Parrikar said.

The Chief Minister also said that both ruling and opposition parties should come together to amend the central legislation “in the interest of Goa and Goans”.

The mining issue has been hanging fire in Goa every since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from March while also directing the state to re-issue mining leases.

This is second time in less than a decade that all mining activity in the state has come to a standstill.

The 2012 ban was later lifted by the apex court in 2014, but the court was forced to impose fresh restrictions while slighting the state government for messing up with the lease renewal process.

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Before Goa was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961, mining leases in the state were permanent concessions granted by the Portuguese colonists for exploration and exploitation.

Once India took over the new colony, the Central government via the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) act, 1987, converted the same concessions into mining leases under the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1954, making them valid for a fixed tenure, which lapsed in 2007.

Though passed by the Parliament in 1987, in case of Goa, a late entrant into the Indian Union, the law was retrospectively brought into effect from 1961, the year Goa was liberated from Portuguese yoke.

The Supreme Court in its February 2018 order has now held that any mining activity carried out since 2007 was illegal.

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In his speech in the state assembly on Thursday, Parrikar proposed an amendment to Section 2 of the Act, which is aimed at altering the retrospective date of conversion of concessions to leases from 1961 to 1987, the year when the law was actually passed in Parliament. The amendment, he said, would extend the validity of leases from 2007 to 2045.

–IANS

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