Panaji, Nov 30 : Goa may choose the auction route in its bid to restart the state’s stricken mining sector, where extraction of the ore has been stopped following a Supreme Court order in 2018, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday.
“The Central government is for auction.There can be an auction too,” Sawant said told reporters at the state secretariat here.
A recent amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act also mandates auctioning as the norm for exploitation of major minerals.
Sawant had returned from the national capital on Sunday after a series of meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister for Mines Prahlad Joshi, Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan as well as Tushar Mehta to find a solution to the vexed mining issue in Goa.
Sawant said that another option on the table vis-a-vis resumption of mining in Goa is to form a government corporation which would oversee mining activity in the state.
The Chief Minister also said that the main concern for his government was not the welfare of mining barons who hold the leases, but of mining industry workers and other economically weaker sections of society who were earning their livelihood through the sector.
“This government is working in the interests of weaker sections who benefited from the industry,” Sawant said.
Mining activity in Goa was also banned by the apex court in 2012 following the unearthing of a Rs.35,000 crore scam by a judicial commission appointed by the central government.But it was resumed in 2015 with restrictions, before it stopped again after the apex court in 2018 found irregularities in renewal of 88 mining leases.
When the mining industry was at its peak, mining extraction, trade and export accounted for 30 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product.
Before Goa was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961, mining leases in Goa were permanent concessions granted by the Portuguese colonists for exploration and commercial exploitation.
Once India took over the new colony though, the central government via the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) act, 1987, converted the same concessions into mining leases under the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1954.
Most of the leases are controlled by a few influential families, while a significant number of leases are also operated by listed companies like Vedanta Resources.
Earlier this year, the Goa government had filed a revision petition before the apex court urging it to relook the 2018 order, which the claims has crippled the state’s industry.