Panaji: Mining companies in Goa should resume operations as soon as possible, failing which they would be compelled to commence mining, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said on Monday.
“My appeal to mine owners is that they should start mining business from this year itself. The government will give full support. If they still fail, I will order them to do so, if needed,” Parsekar said at a function organised by Vedanta Resources to mark resumption of the company’s mining operations at the Codli lease, around 50 km from Panaji.
Mining in Goa was stopped both by the state government as well as the central government in 2012 following a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam which was unearthed by a judicial commission appointed by the union mines ministry, before the Supreme Court eventually banned all mining activity in the same year and instituted a probe by its own Empowered Committee.
The ban was eventually lifted last year, but mining still could not be restarted because of pending green clearances.
From the 80-plus mining leases, which have been renewed by the state government since the ban, Vedanta Resource’s Sesa Iron ore mining company is the first outfit to restart mining operations.
Resumption of mining in Goa, Parsekar said, was akin to the arrival of the ‘Achche Din’ or ‘Good Days’ promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign.
“I feel achche din have started. After the ban, mining activities were stopped for nearly three years in Goa.
“The government tried to give some relief to truck owners by giving the (financial) packages and also mediated with banks to give some relief as far as loans were concerned. But it was not a permanent solution. Mining should start now,” Parsekar said.
“We have done all what we could to restart mining and will continue to do whatever is required. I had given a date of October to restart mining and Vedanta has surprised me by reopening two months earlier,” he said.
“I know prices of iron ore have decreased in international market and as a result the government has reduced export duty from 30 percent to 10 percent. But a businessman never stops running a business even if margin is reduced.”
Chief executive officer of Sesa Iron Ore R. Kishor Kumar, who was present at the function, said: “Due to a fall in iron ore prices in international market, doubts were raised whether mining will resume in Goa or not. We want to put end to these doubts.”
“The resumption of mining will resume employment for many mining-dependent people, the government will benefit from increased revenues and communities will be empowered,” Kumar said.