All options including auction of mining leases on table: Manohar Parrikar
Panaji: Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said his government will explore all options, including auction of mining leases, to ensure that the mining industry is not affected by the Supreme Court order which set aside second renewal of 88 iron ore mining leases in the state.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday quashed the second renewal of 88 iron ore mining leases in Goa in 2015, saying the sole motive of the companies behind the commercial activity was profit maximisation and no social purpose was attached to it. The apex court had asked these mines to stop operating from 15 March.
“All possible ways including auction would be explored. I am not ruling out auction, but I am not confirming it (either). There are multiple options at this stage. We need to discuss it properly with relevant people,” Parrikar told reporters.
The Supreme Court has not prohibited export of ore, he noted. “The export never happens directly from the mining lease, the ore is dumped at the jetty and then transported using a barge. There is no connection between export and extraction,” Parrikar said, adding that the setback caused by the apex court’s order would be temporary.
He, however, conceded that it will impact those who are dependent on the industry. “There is an impact for those who are dependent on mining...we will try and work out fastest means to start the mining through a proper procedure. “The financial impact on the state due to the order will be a maximum of Rs300-400 crore per annum which we can bear,” the chief minister said.
“In 2012, when the mines were closed (by another SC order), the revenue contribution (of the industry) to the state GDP was 26% which has now come down to almost 4-5%,” he said. The chief minister said revenue from the mining industry in the state is expected to be Rs300-400 crore in 2018-19.
“There are many methods to generate revenue. There is piled up material (ore which is already extracted) which can be e-auctioned,” he said. Even when a ban on mining was in operation, Goa had earned Rs1,300-1,400 crore from various mines, he noted. There is no ban on export, Parrikar said. “If the material is available with them, it can be exported. There is no ban on the export. The court has said that the mining has to be conducted through a proper process,” he said.
In the order on Wednesday, the Supreme Court held that the renewal given to mining companies was against the earlier court orders which had said the government should grant fresh mining leases and not give a second renewal. It directed the state to take necessary steps to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.