With Supreme Court pointing at Goa government’s “unduly hasty” decision to allow second renewal of 88 mining leases and quashing the move, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday defended the decision, saying that it was taken on the basis of a High Court ruling, even though the government’s policy was moving towards auction.
“The decision of Bombay High Court in Lithoferro versus State of Goa giving directions different from those given by this court in Goa Foundation matter is set aside. If you see, the High Court proceeded on an erroneous basis that it could direct the state of Goa to grant a second renewal of the mining leases notwithstanding the direction in Goa Foundation. …based on that, we took this decision, otherwise our policy was moving towards auction. We went for second renewal based on HC decision,” Parrikar told reporters at Goa Secretariat.
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Before the Centre decided to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 2015, to include competitive bidding, the Goa government had already approved second renewal of 88 licences. The apex court has also noted that the state’s policy made an “impassioned plea for rejecting the process of competitive bidding of mining lease for the time being”.
Without going into details of the apex court order, Parrikar stressed, “I have already started complying (with SC order), even before the order. Twelve notices have already been issued to recover the money. We had already started action, court is re-confirming it.”
Parrikar also spoke on two cases in which SIT has filed the chargesheets and promised that “two dozen (more) cases will be chargesheeted by SIT”.
The Chief Minister also hinted that the fresh leases could be issued within six months. “Tentative time schedule I found out can be six months… subject to no hurdles in between,” he said. “Consequent to the order, the State will explore all possibilities, including auction, to maximise the revenue of the State. I am not ruling out auction, but I am also not confirming auction.”
With the state budget to be announced this month, Parrikar said the loss from this year can be adjusted in the next financial year. “Damage is temporary. There is not much of a loss to government… But as far as financial impact to the state goes, Rs. 300-Rs 400 crore. We can bear it,” he said.
Asked about the exit plans of mining lease holders who have to stop work on March 15, Parrikar said, “You will get an opportunity for two to three days to get photographs of how they are leaving. It will be like American soldiers leaving Iraq”.
On the status till March 15, Parrikar said all ore extracted till the deadline will belong to the miners. “subject to condition that they pay all the royalty and state mineral fund”.