Panaji, July 30 (IANS) Faced with increasing civic protests against rampant mining in the state, the Goa government is considering framing a new mining policy.
In a written reply in the assembly, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Friday also said his government is processing more than 600 applications for prospecting licences.
‘The application for grant of prospecting licences have been received by the department (mining) which are under scrutiny and process,’ said Kamat, who also holds the mine portfolio, in reply to a query by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Damodar Naik.
Among those who have applied for prospecting licences are Dempo Corporation and Sesa Industries, both owned by Vendanta Resources, Sociedade Fomento Industries and Nationalist Congress party (NCP) National Secretary Jeetendra Deshprabhu.
The union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) has imposed a moratorium on mining proposals until a ‘comprehensive environmental impact assessment of all mining activities’ in the state is conducted.
Kamat had recently said the state government was considering 246 applications for new mining leases in Goa, in addition to the 100-odd existing iron and manganese ore mines which dot the state’s hinterland.
Villages in close vicinity of these mining areas have for often served as virtual battlegrounds for mining companies and anti-mining activists, with the latter claiming that open cast mining is causing ecological havoc in the region by denuding forests and upsetting the ground water levels due to haphazard drilling for ore.
Leader of opposition Manohar Parrikar has repeatedly alleged that Kamat and several of his cabinet colleagues were sheltering illegal mining operations, which the former chief minister said accounted for nearly 18 per cent of the total ore exports.
Nearly 40 million tonnes of ore are extracted and exported annually from the state.