Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to treat Goa as a special case and provide relief by way of legal reform to the coastal state in order to revive the non-functioning mining sector while virtually addressing the governing council of the NITI Ayog.
Sawant also said that Goa, India’s smallest state, was wedged between the Western Ghats as the Arabian sea on the West, which left very little landmass for development purposes and urged the Prime Minister to provide relief vis a vis green laws and coastal regulations which govern smaller states.
“Our efforts are on to revive mining which has been banned by the Supreme Court. We would request the central government to bring reform and treat Goa’s case separately. We got independence in 1961 and we did not get second renewal (of mining leases),” Sawant said during the virtual meeting.
Mining activity in Goa was banned by the apex court first in 2012, following the unearthing of a Rs. 35,000 crore scam by a judicial commission appointed by the central government. But was resumed in 2015 with restrictions, before it stopped again after the apex court in 2018, found irregularities in renewal of 88 mining leases.
Before Goa was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961, mining leases in Goa were permanent concessions granted by the Portuguese colonists for exploration and commercial exploitation.
Once India took over the new colony though, 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, as result of which the mining leases in Goa skipped one round of lease renewals as mandated by the latter legislation.
Sawant also said that the stoppage of mining had left a severe impact on the state economy.
“It (mining ban) has impacted the state economy and employment. We request you for relief on mining activity,” Sawant said.Sawant also made a pitch for relaxing coastal regulations and green laws, especially vis a vis states and union territories with a smaller landmass, saying the web of legislations left very little scope for development activity.
“Goa is the smallest state, which is having 3700 sq. km of area which has Western Ghats on the eastern side and the Arabian Sea to the west. We have maintained 66 percent forest cover,” Sawant said.
“With Coastal Regulation Zone, private forests, eco-sensitive zone, wetland zones and CRZ activity, only 30 per cent land is available for development activities. We seek relief for smaller states and UTs by way of amendment,” Sawant also said.