New Delhi: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday urged a panel of Union ministers led by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to find a way to resume mining operations in Goa as a court- ordered ban effective from March this year has choked economic activity in the coastal state.

Parrikar, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later attended the ministerial panel meeting in the capital, told reporters that mineral exports from the state has come to a halt impacting the lives of about 1.5 lakh people and that the mining sector is now staring at total collapse. Parrikar said the ministerial panel has assured him that it will look into the issues facing the natural resources sector in the state.

“Options are being considered with respect to amendments in law to remove impediments in mining," Parrikar told reporters here, without elaborating what those amendments could be. He said the panel will seek legal advice in this regard.

The chief minister said he had requested Prime Minister Modi to give priority to resolving the mining crisis in the state. The ministerial panel will meet again later this month with possible solutions to deal with the court-ordered ban.

Industry representatives have argued in their representation to policy makers that about a fourth of the state’s population depends directly or indirectly on mining activities and a crisis in the mining sector has spread to the logistics industry in the state, an industry executive said on condition of anonymity.

The latest mining ban is the result of a Supreme Court decision in February cancelling about 88 iron ore mining leases in the state and banning mining operations from March 15.

The Supreme Court had held the state government’s process of renewing mining leases of companies to be “in violation of law" and directed the state government to grant fresh licences through an auction, Mint had reported on February 7. The order came on a public interest litigation filed by the Goa Foundation, an environmental pressure group.

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