As Supreme Court order becomes effective from Friday, reality strikes Goa mining hard

Apart from the mining industry, the ancillary units dependent on extraction of iron ore in Goa will bear the brunt of the Supreme Court ban coming into force Thursday midnight.

Published: 16th March 2018 12:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2018 08:42 AM   |  A+A-

An Iron ore mine in Goa. (File | PTI)

By PTI

PANAJI: Apart from the mining industry, the ancillary units dependent on extraction of iron ore in Goa will bear the brunt of the Supreme Court ban coming into force this midnight.

In the wake of the ban, three public meetings--two in North and one in South Goa--are scheduled to be held tomorrow where truck owners dependent on mining are expected to decide their future course of action.

At least 17,000 trucks were employed in the business of transporting iron ore, before the apex court banned the mining activity on a petition filed by an NGO claiming that companies were carrying out mining in violation of various statutes.

In its order dated February 7, the supreme court also quashed 88 mining leases in Goa and banned fresh extraction of ore from March 15 midnight.

The SC ban virtually crippled the mining industry in the coastal state which employs around two lakh people.

"Nothing has been decided so far. We will meet and decide. For now, we are without any work and have no future," Nilkant Gawas, President, All Goa Truck Owners' Association told PTI.

The situation is worst compared to year 2012, when the apex court banned the mining industry.

"After the ban on mining was lifted (in 2014), people had invested money in repairing their machinery and trucks with the hope that the business is back on the tracks.

But this jolt will be fatal," Gawas said, adding that the impending crisis can blow into a law and order issue.

He accused the state government of failing to effectively apprise the supreme court about the implications of its order on the people and the mining industry.

South Goa Truck Owners Association Secretary Prakash Raut Desai said the people dependent on mining will suffer the most.

"We cannot diversify into any other business as banks have already listed us as defaulters and they will refuse to lend us anymore," he said.

Desai said hundreds of people had borrowed from banks for either purchasing new trucks or repairing old ones with the hope that mining activity will resume in full swing.

"We are staring at darkness right now. We don't see any hope," he added.

After facing flak from the people dependent on the mining industry, the Cabinet Advisory Committee of the state government has resolved to file a review petition in the SC.

However, the mining stake-holders are not impressed.

"Why are they waiting to file the petition? The industry has already closed down today," said Suresh Desai, a member of the North Goa Truck Owners Association.

He said the people will take to the streets in frustration if the mining ban becomes permanent in the coastal state.

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