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Mining in Wilderness

Supreme Court orders trigger standstill in Goa mining,  56 iron ore mines to be scrapped in Odisha On the evening of March 15, iron ore mining leases in Goa were thrown out of operations. The government there sealed mining operations of 88 leases after the Supreme Court ruled their second renewal as illegal. The apex court order has brought down the curtains on the flourishing five-decade old mining industry in Goa barring an interregnum of nearly three years when the same court suspended mining after the recommendations of the Justice M B Shah Commission. The probe panel in its findings had claimed mining scam of the order of Rs 35,000 crore by Goa's miners between 2005 and 2012. Acting upon the panel's findings, the Supreme Court slapped a mining ban on the iron ore rich state in October 2012. The ban on mining was lifted in April 2014 by the court with some riders. Goa's mining cap was pegged  at 20 million tonnes annually despite the industry capable of delivering double the figure. The grim situation adversely hit the operations of Vedanta Group owned Sesa Goa and other large standalone miners. Adding to their woes, the Supreme Court order came as a shocker. The court quashed the operations of all 88 iron ore leases operating under second renewal after  March 15. Goa's mining industry was pushed to the deathbed after this order. Mining complements tourism in Goa's revenue earnings. Collapse of mining activity means nearly paralysing the state's economy. Some estimates peg the loss stemming from mining ban at Rs 3500 crore each year. If mining fails to revive, 2.5 lakh jobs are at stake. Goa has already witnessed street protests by  the stakeholders. No solution is in sight yet to defuse the mining crisis. The Supreme Court has declared that auctions are the only option to resurrect mining at those 88 leases. Stakeholders have sought the Prime Minister's intervention to resolve the impasse. The Goa government is contemplating to file a review petition in the Supreme Court to allow mining of the 88 leases till auctions are finalised. This will help save jobs and avoid revenue loss for the government apart from curbing unrest from closure of mines. The mining crisis has turned chaotic in the absence of chief minister Manohar Parrikar who was undergoing treatment in US when this report was filed. Mining contributes 20 per cent to Goa's  revenues. Protests in the aftermath of the mining ban have taken an ugly turn as demonstrators made up by stakeholders dependent on mining, have blocked streets defying prohibitory orders of the government. The fate of the 88 iron ore mines still hangs in the balance till their roadmap for auctions is prepared.  Till then- revenues, jobs and exports and the state economy carrying the burden is in soup. When Supreme Court pronounced those bold orders on mining in Goa and Odisha, few could realise the aftershocks. In Odisha, seven working iron ore and manganese mines went off the gear after they failed to pay the court ordered compensation by the December 31 deadline. The Supreme Court has declared that auctions are the only option to resurrect mining at those 88 leases. Stakeholders...
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