The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled all iron ore mining leases in the state and said operations have to stop on March 15. The top court said fresh leases will be issued only after obtaining an environment clearance. The court was hearing a plea filed by NGO Goa Foundation. It further asked the central government to start a fresh process of auction for mining companies in Goa.
In January this year, the Goa Police filed a chargesheet against former chief minister and Congress leader Digambar Kamat for condonation of delay in renewing a mining lease that caused a loss to the state exchequer. The SIT had filed a case in September 2014 against Kamat, owner of the mine at Collem in south Goa Prafulla Hede and Mines and Geology department officer AT D’Souza under section 19 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act. The FIR was registered on a complaint by the state’s Mines and Geology Department.
In October 2012, the apex court suspended all iron ore mining and transportation in the state, following a report submitted by the Justice MB Shah Commission, which found that millions of tonnes of iron ore were mined illegally. In 2015, the state government renewed 88 mining leases, owned by the same holders accused of illegal mining.