Goa mining stakeholders want early resumption of operations

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The drafting of a new mining policy, which is mandatory to resume iron ore extraction and exports from Goa, should be expedited so that the key industry gets back on its feet, according to stake-holders.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier said the policy would be drafted by June-end but the stakeholders feel the government should fast-track the process so that the mining industry, which has been reeling under a Supreme Court ban for last two years, can resume operations.

The ban, which has been now lifted, and halt in mining operations had resulted in loss of jobs and revenue to both companies and the state exchequer, they said.

"Everybody dependent on the mining industry hopes the activity resumes immediately. It's up to the state government to make it happen. I don't understand why the Chief Minister is delaying the process (of policy formulation)," Suhas Naik, Convenor, Goa Mining People's Front, told PTI.

The front is a body representing people affected by suspension of mining activity in Goa. The mining industry has been facing allegations of rampant illegalities, leading to the ban in 2012.

The ban was lifted in April by the apex court, which gave powers to the state government to regulate the industry.

The SC order had also declared the exports since last five years as illegal and cancelled mining leases which were not renewed after 2007, rendering them as state property.

Post the ruling, Parrikar had said his Government will come out with a new policy for the sector.

"Parrikar used to say let (Narendra) Modi come to power at the Centre, I will resume the mining immediately. Now Modi is in the Centre. What stops Parrikar from fulfilling his promise?" Naik said.

He pointed out that mining in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Odisha has restarted, while Goa is still lagging behind.

Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA), too, has called for immediate resumption of mining activity. "Our expectation is that the mining should restart as early as possible," GMOEA Chief Executive Officer S Sridhar said.

The mine owners are reluctant to come on record, but said they are ready to cooperate with the government on the issue.

Parrikar has said he is waiting to visit New Delhi and meet the Union Minister concerned as part of mining policy formulation process.

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