Hundreds of protestors on Monday began their agitation in Panaji against the closure of mining activities in Goa following a Supreme Court order. Several roads were blocked in the capital as people dependent on the mining industry, including truck and barge owners, joined the agitation.

Earlier, authorities in North Goa issued prohibitory orders in parts of the city ahead of the protests, ANI reported. The district magistrate imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on either side of Mandovi bridge from 6 am to 10.30 am on Monday. Traffic authorities also issued advisories for people to avoid certain routes, O Heraldo reported.

Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister for road transport, will arrive in Goa on Monday to meet stakeholders, All India Radio reported.

On Sunday, the state’s Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai said Monday’s protest was unwanted as a Supreme Court order, not the government, had ruled the closure of mining activities.

“There is no need for those dependent on mining to hold a protest in Panaji tomorrow as they do not have to impress anybody,” Sardesai told PTI. “The government is already sympathetic to their demands. We also believe that the closure was abrupt and it caused people inconvenience.”

Protests in Goa against the closure of mining activities. (Pamela D'Mello)

By noon on Monday, several people had gathered in Goa’s capital to protest against the closure of mining activities.

The protest in Panaji on Monday. (Wendy Rodrigues)

In February, the Supreme Court had quashed the Goa government’s order to renew the licenses of mining companies in the state, and said the companies could carry out mining activities only till March 16. According to the order, fresh leases will be issued only after the companies get environment clearances. The government has to start a fresh auction process, the court said.

The court’s order came while hearing a plea that alleged that a number of the lease-holders were illegally mining iron ore.

All mining companies in Goa stopped their operations on March 16.

The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association, a body representing mine owners in the state, told PTI earlier that the closure would bring about an “economic and social disaster”.

The association said the Supreme Court order would have an immediate impact on truck owners, and that unemployment would gradually increase in the state.