NEW DELHI: Illegal mining projects across the country could well be regularised as the Centre appears to be ready to grant them environmental clearance (EC) if they agree to cough up a hefty penalty, as directed by the Supreme Court. The court, on August 2 last year, said mining companies in Odisha operating without EC would have to pay 100 per cent penalty to the state. The Centre is using this verdict as its template for regularisation.
It’s immediate concern includes Goa where the BJP-led government is under stress as the SC a few months ago quashed all approvals to renew mining in the iron ore-rich state. The Goa People’s Front (GPF), an NDA ally, recently threatened to withdraw support to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls if the mining issue was not resolved.
Perhaps with Goa in mind, the Centre has imposed a few conditionalities for companies that have sought regularisation, according to the latest directive from the Union environment ministry.
They include submitting an affidavit on complying with the SC order in toto as also fulfilling all statutory requirements. Mining operations cannot be allowed to resume till the entire compensation is paid, the directive said.
1 in 4 cases registered in Maha
As many as 42,334 cases of illegal mining were registered till Sept of the 2016-17 fiscal. 10,797 were in Maharashtra, according to official data