Panaji, March 14 (IANS) Even as iron ore extraction and transportation from Goa's 88 mining leases is due to come to a temporary closure on Thursday following a Supreme Court order, the state government's Cabinet Advisory Committee on Wednesday recommended filing of a revision petition in the apex court, seeking continuance of mining activity until the state's mining leases are eventually auctioned.
Speaking to IANS on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai, who is one of the three ministers forming the advisory committee, said the committee had recommended its view to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in the United States.
"The Chief Minister will take a final decision soon," Sardesai said.
Sardesai said the Committee had recommended that the state government should approach the Attorney General of India to file the review petition in the Supreme Court as soon as possible.
In its order last month, the apex court had ordered stopping of mining activity in the 88 mining leases from March 15 and directed the state government to issue fresh leases, after completing the necessary environment-related formalities.
An amendment to the Mines and Minerals Regulation and Development Act in 2016 has made auctioning of natural resources mandatory.
The apex court's decision has triggered a rift in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition in Goa, with several legislators including BJP MLA from Curchorem assembly constituency Nilesh Cabral.
They accuse both state government as well as National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre of betraying the interests of people depending on the mining industry in Goa by not working quickly enough to prevent iron ore extraction from shutting down on March 15.
Urban Development Minister Francis D'Souza, who is also a member of the Committee, said that auctioning of the mining leases in Goa was the only option vis-a-vis issue of fresh mining leases, but added that until the auctioning process was completed, mining companies currently engaged in ore extraction should be allowed to continue.
Stopping mining, he said, would cause economic losses to the state exchequer as well as to the workforce linked to the mining industry.
D'Souza also said that MLAs from constituencies located in the mining belt would be heading soon-to-be-formed committees which would be tasked with assessing losses caused to individuals and companies linked to mining trade.
"The MLAs heading these committee will be assessing the loss, and welfare schemes started by the Goa government in 2012, when mining was first banned, will be extended to ensure that there is no panic," D'Souza said. The schemes involved financial doles to owners of truck, which were used to ferry iron ore.
On Tuesday, three MPs from Goa, including Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, met BJP national president Amit Shah and Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari (Shipping) and Narendra Singh (Mines) and urged them to find a solution to the mining imbroglio, which the Goan lawmakers claim will impact the livelihood of over one lakh people.