The Goa Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a resolution to allow the state government to urge the Centre to amend a central legislation governing the mining sector, allowing the state to bypass a Supreme Court order that had banned mining since February. A total of 88 mining lease stand revoked due to the order, with the entire mining sector shut down in Goa. “It’s not as if other states are not suffering from the SC’s order. If courts start to decide the economic trajectory, there is no guarantee where the country’s economy will go, which is why Parliament is supreme and why Parliament should make laws when necessary,” Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said in the Assembly, urging the Opposition to take a joint decision in favour of the livelihood of the mining-affected families and the continuing loss to the exchequer.
“The Prime Minister has constituted a group of ministers. I have secured an appointment on August 7 and will present this issue before them to explain how Goa’s concessions were different… We have to bring to their attention how Goa’s case is different,” he said.
The private member’s resolution was moved by BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral, also seen as the spokesperson for mining-affected communities. It requests the Centre to amend the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, and make mining leases in Goa valid from 1987, when the Act was actually promulgated and applied to Goa, rather than 1961, the year Goa was liberated.
Under the Portuguese, mining was categorised as concessions to be used permanently for exploration and exploitation. Since 1961, under the Indian flag, the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1954, converted these into fixed tenure leases with 2007 as the end year. The amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act would restore the concessions. This would allow the mines to work again.
Cabral, who had been deputed to look into the matter, had earlier suggested this as the solution after several meetings with top lawyers and consultation with legal experts, even as green activists across Goa are against this back-door solution.
“So what is the solution to this? The SC has closed down everything. The solution is to make the necessary change in the law. How to do it, what to do, that I will place before the Group of Ministers. I have discussed this with a lot of people, I will give this assurance that Goa’s mining sector and the people, they will have to face some hardship… From my side I will try my best to convince the mining sector to make the necessary change to restart Goa’s mining. Taking the support of the House, I will go to the central government,” Parrikar said in the Assembly.