The Goa Mining People's Front
(GMPF), an organisation representing the interests of lakhs of mining
workers in the coastal state and whose livelihoods have been hit by the
mining ban imposed since February last year, have expressed anger over
not being consulted in the process of decision-making to restart mining
GMPF President Puti Gaonkar said that a Secretary-level
committee was formed by the Central government in order to suggest how
to commence mining operations in 124 mines, including the mines in Goa.
"I have been in several Pay Commissions, but here we are not even allowed to represent or even present our case," Gaonkar said.
Supreme Court had, on February 7, 2018, passed an order cancelling 88
iron ore mining leases in Goa which has resulted in affecting the
livehood of lakhs of mining workers and their dependents.
Justice M.B. Shah Commission, constituted to inquire into large-scale
illegal mining of iron ore and manganese had estimated in its report
that the loss to the state exchequer due to illegal mining, amounted to
around Rs 35,000 crore, apart the environmental damage.
Commission has identified encroachment by lease holders outside the
mining lease area granted to them on the basis of superimposition of
hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) data on lease boundary on the
Google Earth Map, and has recommended action against the violators," the
Commission said in its report.
It also noted that there was no
coordination between the Department of Mines in the of Goa government
and the Goa State Pollution Control Board, while the data maintained by
them showed up contradictions on the total number of actual working
mines in the state.
"Such contradiction in record reveals
inefficient administration and lack of field inspection by these
agencies," the report said.
More importantly, the commission had
"observed violation of Environment and Forest laws in mining of iron ore
in the eco-sensitive zone in Goa, which shows the failure of the state
government in discharging its duties imposed.."