No need to panic over SC order on Goa mining leases: Parrikar

PTI
Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The apex court had directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them.
"At this moment, according to my information, there is nothing applicable until March 15. I do not want to comment anything unless I go through it (the SC order)," Parrikar told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said there was "no need to panic" over the Supreme Court order quashing the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in the state in 2015.

The apex court had directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them.
"At this moment, according to my information, there is nothing applicable until March 15. I do not want to comment anything unless I go through it (the SC order)," Parrikar told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.

"In the judgement, I understand, the court has also said that the option (to grant mining leases) was not necessarily (through) bidding (process).

"That means different possibilities are open. The order does not come into effect from tomorrow so there is no need to panic," the chief minister said.

Parrikar said the state will decide its stand on the issue in the next two to three days after speaking to its legal advisors and issue a written statement.

Meanwhile, opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said renewal of mining leases was a "bigger scam" than the one unearthed in 2012 by the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice M B Shah.

"The renewal of mining leases by the state government was a bigger scam than the one pointed out by the M B Shah Commission," Goa AAP convener Elvis Gomes told reporters.

The inquiry panel had claimed that illegal mining worth Rs 35,000 crore took place in Goa during 2005-12.

The SC order should "shame" the state government which had failed to take action against the mine owners named by the inquiry commission, Gomes said.

The BJP came to power in 2012 by raising the issue of illegal mining, but failed to take action against these mine owners despite being in power for the last six years, he said.
"We are thankful to the SC for intervening in the matter and stopping the illegality (in renewal of iron ore mining leases)," the AAP leader said.

The SC said the Goa government was obliged to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with law in view of its previous judgement, and not second renewals to mining lease holders.

"The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa is liable to be set aside and is quashed," said a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta.

The apex court also directed the setting up of an SIT and a team of chartered accountants to recover the amount from mining companies, which were allowed to extract ore in violation of the law. 

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