All mining companies in Goa stopped their operations on Friday in accordance with a Supreme Court order. On February 7, the top court had quashed a state government order to renew the leases of mining companies and set a deadline of March 16 to stop mining activity.
Director of Mines Prasanna Acharya told The Times of India on Thursday that all mining companies have stopped iron ore extraction and transportation from the lease. “No iron ore can be transported from inside the lease from Friday,” he said. He added that only the ore dumped outside the lease can be exported.
The Directorate of Mines told the Goa Police and leaseholders that security arrangements at the leases should be in place till March 31, or until the government made such arrangements, in order to prevent theft of iron ore.
The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association, a body representing mine owners in the state, told PTI that the closure would bring about an “economic and social disaster”.
“The industry has faced many challenges in the past 70 years: be it sovereign, economic, political and so on,” Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association president Ambar Timblo told the news agency. “We have an obligation to our history and our stakeholders.”
Timblo said that the February order of the Supreme Court was unexpected, given its own 2014 verdict lifting the mining ban. He said that the ban would have an immediate impact on truck owners, and that unemployment would gradually increase in the state.
Timblo refrained from blaming the Goa government for its handling of the matter in the top court. The association’s president said that the Supreme Court had banned mining even though the state had complied with its previous orders more than any other state in India, PTI reported.