Goa government considers auctioning 88 halted iron ore mining leases

After two years of halt, the state government finally blows the dust off the dormant mining leases and considers auctioning

Image Courtesy:thehindu.com

Goa’s iron ore mining leases that were halted in March 2018 may be auctioned off soon to restart the industry, said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on November 30, 2020.

Following a meeting with Union Minister of Coal, Parliamentary Affairs and Mines Pralhad Joshi and Home Minister Amit Shah and other officials, Sawant said that the government would auction the 88 mining leases that were quashed by the Supreme Court two years ago.

This step was made possible by the environmental action group the Goa Foundation whose extensive legal work on preserving mineral resources of the state since 1992 has been hailed by environmentalists and people of Goa. On Monday evening, the Goa Foundation celebrated the announcement as a “victory” for Goan people.


Following the court verdict, the state’s mining industry was stuck between the Supreme Court’s orders to issue fresh leases and the MMDR Act’s current clauses mandating an auction process for granting leases.

While Sawant said that the auctioning could be one of the solutions for reviving the mining industry. He also expressed concern over the impact of such a decision on people working under these leases. Nonetheless, he said the government would ensure that new lease holders do not dismiss their services.

Similarly, netizens also raised doubts regarding the benefits of auctioning in view of outstanding dues.

To this, member of the Goenchi Mati, a movement started by the Goa Foundation, Rahul Basu said, “I think the government has to issue final orders by December 4 where they have issued Rs. 3,431.31 crores of show cause notices. That money should also go into the permanent fund for future generations.”

When asked whether the government would be able to recover such an amount from existing mine owners, he said the administration could be compelled to do so by the people.

Auctions could open Goa’s mines to companies across India rather a handful of family-run companies such as the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association.

This mining industry lobby of the state that enjoyed mining concessions by the erstwhile Portuguese colonial regime, said they are awaiting a joint meeting with the Union of India and the state government to find a prudent solution while considering legal and technical aspects of the project.


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