Making suitable amendments to The Goa Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration of Mining Leases Act, 1987, would help restart the mining industry in the coastal state, the Goa Mining People's Front, a collective of unemployed mining industry workers, said on Monday.
The Front in its list of written suggestions submitted to the Union Ministry of Mines on Monday, has said that prospective application of the 1987 Act, would automatically deem the mining leases in the state as valid and help restart the industry which has been non functional for the last two years, following a Supreme Court order which ruled that 88 mining leases in the state had lapsed.
On August 24, the Union Mines Ministry had sought suggestions from the public for instituting reforms in the mining sector.
"The said amendment shall clarify the period of lease in Goa until 2037 (50 years as provided under the MMDR Act amendment 2015) by making the abolition act 1987 prospective by changing the current provision of it being retrospective," the Front's president Puti Gaonkar told reporters here, adding that the change would bring the mining sector in the state on par with other states vis a vis the process of renewal or extension of mining leases as per the Mines and Minerals (Amendment) 2015.
The mining issue has been hanging fire in Goa, ever since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from March 2018, while also directing the state government to re-issue mining leases.
This is the second time in less than a decade that mining activity in the state has come to a standstill.
A 2012 ban was earlier lifted by the apex court in 2014, but the court imposed fresh restrictions once again in 2018, after it found that the incumbent BJP-led coalition government had not followed due procedure in the lease renewal process, while also ruling that the mining leases had lapsed in 2007.
Before Goa was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961, mining leases in Goa were permanent concessions granted by the Portuguese colonists for exploration and exploitation.
Once India took over control of the coastal state, the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987, converted the same concessions into mining leases under the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1954, making them valid for a fixed tenure of 20 years, which lapsed in 2007.
Though passed by the Indian Parliament in 1987, in the case of Goa, a late entrant into the Indian Union, the law was retrospectively brought into effect from 1961, the year Goa was liberated from Portuguese yoke.
Gaonkar also said the non functional mining sector in Goa had led to job losses and and affected the state economy and blamed the lack of consultation between the state and central governments as the reason for the current impasse.
"It may be because of lack of consultation between State and Centre, which is extremely worrisome because Goa's mining industry and Goa's economy at large, is being neglected by Central Govt, in spite of severe damage to state economy in past couple of years after the mining ban," Gaonkar said.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a clutch of petitions related to resumption of the mining sector, which are scheduled to be heard later this month.