A mine owners’ body in Goa has warned that the absence of clarity on resumption of mining activity will result in huge debt for the state as tourism, which is one of the major contributors to the state GDP, is feeling the pinch due to resurging coronavirus cases in the country.
In an interview with PTI, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) President Ambar Timblo said that the position of the state looks “very precarious” as the COVID situation in the country, including Goa, will become acute in the next two months and post lapse of this period there will be the onset of monsoons in the state, an offseason for the tourism sector.
Mining in Goa came to a standstill in March last year after the Supreme Court quashed 88 leases in 2018. Mining and tourism are the two industries which constituted over 50 per cent of the GDP. The Goa government hopes that situation arising out of COVID-19 can be dealt with so that the tourism sector prospers. Stoppage of mining in Goa has amounted to the state’s debt rising every year and is reaching at an uncomfortable level.
The erstwhile Portuguese regime in Goa granted perpetual mining concessions in the state as long as the concessionaire complied with the conditions which the law and title of concession. After the liberation of Goa in 1961, The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, (MMDR Act) and the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 (MCR 1960), were made applicable to Goa.
The Goa, Daman & Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition & Declaration of Mining Leases) Act 1987 (‘Abolition Act’) was enacted in 1987, which declared erstwhile mining concessions to be deemed to be mining leases since 1961 (retrospective instead of prospective).
In late 2014 and early 2015, the Goa government renewed 88 mining leases in the state. On February 7, 2018, the Supreme Court passed an order cancelling 88 iron ore mining leases in the state that were renewed by the government in 2014-2015.