PANAJI: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday said that the State government was making sincere efforts for resumption of mining activities in the State.
Speaking in the Goa Assembly, Sawant said, “I am concerned about resumption of mining activities because my constituency is in the mining belt. I do not want to beat around the bush. I am making sincere efforts to resume mining. Right from the time I have taken over as the CM, my priority is to start legal mining.”
Speaking about the efforts taken by the State government for resumption of mining activities in the State, Sawant said, “As per the order of the Supreme Court, the State government has conducted 22 e-auctions of the ore extracted in the State of Goa. A total of 16.81 MMT was put up for auction, of which 13.54 MMT has been so far sold and revenue to the tune of approximately Rs 130 crore has been earned.”
He also said that the State government had filed various review petitions before the Supreme Court to resume mining activities and the same were expected to be heard soon.
“The State government has also filed Interlocutory Application before Supreme Court for allowing handling of dumps based on the recommendations of Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC). We have also taken a positive stand before Supreme Court with regard to the transportation of royalty paid ore by the mining companies. The government is also exploring all other alternate options for early resumption of legal mining in the State,” Sawant said.
The Chief Minister also informed that currently there was 1.45 MT of ore on which royalty had been paid and there was 7.7 MT of ore on which royalty had not been paid.
Speaking on the hurdles in resumption of mining activities, Sawant said, “The petition challenging Abolition Act is pending before the three judge bench in Supreme Court. Till this order doesn't come, it is not possible to auction the mining leases. Otherwise we were even ready to auction.”
Sawant said that the government doesn't have the surface rights of all these mining leases.
“The government has never thought about surface rights earlier. More than 70-80 per cent of the surface rights are either with the lease owners or with private owners. Only 20 per cent of the surface rights are with the government. That is the difficulty in auctioning of the mines,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate sought to know from the chief minister whether mining activities would really resume in Goa or whether he was taking the people of Goa for a ride.
Stating that Goa was in a debt trap, Navelim MLA Luizinho Faleiro questioned on why the State government was not taking any action in auctioning of mining leases in the State.
“The total loans of the State of Goa is 20,411.61 crore. The per capita loan this government has taken us more than 1.4 lakh per head. What has prevented you to auction? When the government is in the debt trap, you are taking loans to pay the interest, salaries, to pay the earlier loans. Why are you dilly-dallying? Why are you not recovering the money? Why are you not taking an action in auctioning this” he questioned.