Raising serious concerns about the rising unemployment rate in the state, the Goa chapter of Mining Engineers’ Association of India (MEAI) appealed to the governments at the Centre and state to immediately allow the resumption of mining activities through best possible means.
Citing the very high rate of unemployment in the state, the Goa chapter of MEAI claimed that in the absence of industrial activity, mining professionals are facing an unprecedented job crisis. Goa’s unemployment rate was recorded at a whopping 13.4 per cent in May 2022, as against the national average of 7.12 per cent as per the data published by Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE).
The association said that due to the stoppage of mining operations and massive slowdown in the other industrial sectors in Goa, as per the CMIE report its unemployment rate was higher than that of several bigger states, such as Chhattisgarh (0.7 per cent), Gujarat (2.1 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (1.6 per cent), Odisha (2.6 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (3.1 per cent), Uttarakhand (2.9 per cent) and Maharashtra (4.1 per cent) during May 22.
Despite being a small state, Goa features among the first six states with maximum unemployment rate in India. As per the report of MoSPI, in 2020-21 the state had the third highest unemployment rate after Nagaland and Lakshadweep. At least 10.5 per cent of the population was unemployed, much above the national unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent.
“Despite being such a mineral rich state and tourism hub of India, Goa is in such a miserable crisis in terms of employment opportunities. There is dire need for the government to act on the long pending issue of Goa mining resumption due to which almost 3 lakh livelihoods are already disturbed,” it said.
Joseph Coelho, Chairman, MEAI Goa chapter, said, “Goa’s economic revival is extremely vital without any further delays, and we urge Govt. to relook at the ever-worsening employability scenario leading to the various repercussions such as rising cases of addictions, domestic violence, stress, illiteracy etc.
“The state’s growth is almost stagnated with a massive debt burden of over Rs 23,000 crore, employment rate is at an all-time low, and major industrial activities have come to a standstill. Despite having ample potential, the youth, especially mining professionals, are facing an unprecedented crisis. We, as a mining professional’s body, are pained by this loss of state revenue and employment opportunities. It is also disheartening to see that professional mining academic courses in the state are almost on the verge of shutting down such as mining engineering degree courses and mining diploma courses,” Coelho further said.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court quashed 88 mining leases in Goa, bringing the local iron ore industry to a standstill. The state government has recently started the process to take over these leases by issuing notices to vacate the leases.
In the last four years, several industry bodies, mining dependent organisations, and other stakeholders have appealed to the government to find a way to resume mining in the state.
In the past too, the MEAI Goa chapter had written to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, appealing to him for immediate resumption of mining to address the unemployment crisis and revenue deficit in the state.