PANJI: Over 40 mine operating firms have been issued notice by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for extracting iron ore beyond the limits stipulated in the environmental clearance (EC) granted to them.
GSPCB chairman Simon de Souza told reporters here that the errant companies had been summoned to the pollution control board office in Panaji for a hearing. "The hearings have been scheduled April 11, 12 and 13," de Souza said, adding he could not "off hand" name the companies which had been issued notice.
The Justice M.B. Shah Commission which had been probing illegal mining in Goa, as well as the rest of India, had expressed concern over the fact that several mining companies in the state had extracted iron ore more than four to five times the permitted limit.
Environmental clearance is granted by the union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) and sets a limit on the quantity that can be extracted from the mining lease annually, keeping in mind the extent of environmental degradation and other ground realities near the mining area. The Goa government has already suspended mines director Arvind Lolienkar in connection with the illegal mining scam and suspended the licences of nearly 450 iron ore traders operating in Goa.
Illegal extraction and export of iron ore has been one of the most contentious issues in Goa for the last few years. Goa extracted 56 million tonnes of iron ore from 100-odd operational mines in Goa. In his earlier stint as opposition leader, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had said nearly one-third of Goa's ore exported was illegal.