Sunday, September 25, 2016

Goa and the Iron Ore

Goa, famous for its stunning beaches, is also India's third-largest iron ore producer. Mining is as important to Goa as its tourism industry. Goa's mining belt covers approximately 700-square kilometers and is mostly concentrated in four areas - Bicholim in the north; and Salcete, Sanguem and Quepem of the state's south. Only around 20 percent of the existing mining leases are currently operational. But years of unbridled development have led to massive land grabbing by the real estate lobbies and illegal miners. Until the 2000s, Goa's mining industry had been controlled by a few families. After that, the infrastructure boom in China triggered an unprecedented mining in the state. The mining mafia, in collusion with political groups, committed large-scale environmental and legal violations. The environmentalists estimate that the loss to the public exchequer owing to illegal mining amounted to a staggering 4.6 billion euros.

It was only after the public protests and the subsequent setting up of a judicial commission that the government suspended all mining in Goa in September 2012. But now the mining has been reopened in the state, aiming to increase exports amid a slump in raw materials. The Indian Supreme Court has imposed an annual cap of 20 million tonnes of iron ore extraction. Furthermore, it ruled that no lease would be granted for mining within the radius of one kilometer around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Goa Foundation, an environmental group whose public interest litigation eventually led to a ban on illegal mining in 2012, demands even stricter regulations.
"It is a very sensitive issue. The caps on mining are proposed to ensure that the minerals are available to the future generations and that there is no irreversible damage to environment and society," Claude Alvares, the foundation's director, told DW. 

If you seek to permanently protect the environment contact:
The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,
E-mail: wspindia@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.worldsocialistpartyindia.org/


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