PANAJI: Goa Mineral Ore Exporters' Association, the body representing the mine owners in Goa, today said the closure of the mining leases in the coastal state will bring about an "economic and social disaster".
The Goa government put a complete halt on iron ore mining in the state from today, after the Supreme Court last month quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa in 2015.
The apex court had given time till March 15 to mining lease holders to manage their affairs.
The people dependent on this industry are in the panic mode as there is no clarity over their future.
"This is an economic and social disaster," GMOEA president Ambar Timblo told PTI in an interview today.
"The industry has faced many challenges in the past 70 years; be it sovereign, economic, political and so on.
We have an obligation to our history and our stake stakeholders (now in the third generation across Goa) to persevere, and we will," he added.
Timblo, who is also the managing director of Fomento Resources, one of the oldest mining firm, said that such a situation was not anticipated.
"After the hearing in the Supreme Court (lifting the mining ban in 2014) and after ensuring that all the compliances were in place, this situation was unforeseen and a huge blow to everyone," he said.
According to Timblo, the mining ban will take an immediate toll on the truck operators.
"The truck owners will have no operations from today; and at mines all operations have stopped.
So a huge economic setback immediately," he said.
"The impact on unemployment will gradually start taking a toll, especially in the event of missing clarity on the road forward," he added.
When asked whether the Goa government wrongly handled the mining issue before the apex court, Timblo said "I do not believe any person, either in the government or in the opposition, expected this situation.
" "I believe the shock and impact of it is still affecting all.
Goa had compliance (of the SC directives) higher and superior to any other state in India, still we are in this depressed situation," he added.
Responding to a question about industry's opposition to auctioning of the mining leases, Timblo said, "The provision for auctioning is provided for in the (Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation) Act in a very detailed manner and is very clear on when it would be applicable.
It is not applicable to the cases in Goa.
" Goa's mining industry had faced a ban in 2012 after an SC directive which had taken cognisance of the M B Shah panel's report that claimed there was illegal mining worth Rs 35,000 crore in the state between 2005 and 2012.
The industry remained banned for nearly 19 months from October 2012 to April 2014, when the SC finally allowed the industry to operate imposing several riders.
The restriction to extract only 20 million tonnes was also imposed on the industry, which had double the capacity to tap the ore before the ban.
It took another 18 months for the industry to actually start the extraction process in October 2015.
The industry could not reach its full potential after resumption, with just 7.
2 million tonnes being extracted during fiscal 2015-16.
The figures from the department of mines and geology show that 37.
11 million tonnes of iron ore was extracted from the time the ban was lifted till date, bringing in a revenue of Rs 1,243.
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