Suspend 51 mining leases, Goa Foundation to SC

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The Goa Foundation has filed an additional affidavit before the Supreme Court praying for immediate implementation of the reports of two High Level Committees on Western Ghats, that have recommended the suspension of 51 mining leases, 50 per cent of the total operational mining leases, alleging harm to the fragile ecology of the Western Ghats ecosystem.
The NGO has filed a PIL in the Apex court against widespread illegal mining by all sectors of the mining industry, as alleged by the Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry.
The petitioner has claimed that mining will further destroy the World Heritage Ecological Hotspot if permitted to resume.
“As most of the mining leases in Goa are in the Western Ghat region, the recommendations of the two High Level Committees ought to be considered by this Court while deciding the issues raised in illegal mining petition,” the affidavit stated, adding “Petitioner submits that the real motive for constituting the second Expert Committee (the HLWG) was to dilute the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel (WGEEP) which were seen by the state governments, developers and the mining lobbies as too restrictive.”
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in March 2010 had constituted the WGEEP headed by Prof Madhav Gadgil concerning various measures to be taken in respect of protection of the Ghats. Following the committee’s report in 2011, the Ministry constituted Expert Committee called the High Level Working Group on Western Ghats (HLWG) in 2012, headed by Dr K Kasturirangan.
The petitioner said that both these committees specifically considered the issue of mining leases operating in the State of Goa and evaluated the impact of their operations on the ecology of the Western Ghats.
“In the areas in Goa demarcated as ecologically sensitive by both committees, 36 mining leases are located. Both committees recommend in effect that the 36 leases found in these areas, need to be terminated or cancelled and not renewed, in order to protect the Western Ghats,” the affidavit says.
In the additional areas identified as eco-sensitive zone1 (ESZ1) by the WGEEP, another 13 mines are located and are therefore recommended for closure by the WGEEP alone. The HLWG has identified additional areas as eco-sensitive areas (ESA) in which 2 mining leases are located, thus taking the HLWG’s total list of mines to be banned to 38.
According to the affidavit ~ “If both lists are added incrementally, a total of 51 mining leases out of 90 would have to be permanently shut down on grounds of seriously affecting the ecological fragility of the Western Ghats ecosystem. Thus the mining operations of at least 50 per cent of the Goa mines have destroyed the Ghats and will further destruct this world ecological hotspot if permitted to resume mining operations.”

The petitioner said that the Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry also speaks about the widespread damage to ecology because mines were allowed to operate in areas that were ecologically sensitive despite protection afforded by existing Supreme Court orders.

Courtesy : Herald

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