Goa govt contemplates cancelling 40 mining leases

The Goa Government is planning to cancel 40 mining leases in the State that were granted during the erstwhile Congress-led regime.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Legislative Assembly today that the State Government has already moved a file for legal advice on issuing notice to owners of 40 mining leases, whose delay in applying for conversion of their ‘concession’ into ‘lease’ was condoned by the Congress Government.

The former Government had condoned the delay although “they were not allowed to do so,” Parrikar said.

The delay in filing of the ‘J form’ under the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concession Act, 1987, was condoned by the previous Congress-led governments.

The deadline for filing the said form was November 22, 1988, but some were filed as late as 2005.

The ‘J’ form is necessary for conversion of old mining concessions granted during Portuguese rule into formal leases.

Out of 40 mining leases, only 8-10 are actually operational, Parrikar said, adding that almost all the leases in the State were operating under deemed provision.

“We will process their applications for renewal. Either they will be accepted or rejected, but we will take a stand on it,” the Chief Minister said.

Source: PTI

Lokayuktas can be useful in controlling rampant mining

Lokayuktas can play a vital role in controlling rampaging mining industry from encroaching on citizen’s rights and curbing corruption this has been advocated by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). This is a new ground for supporting Lokayuktas office, and it can be helpful for Lokpal as well at the central level in controlling corruption in various walks of life.

The international rights body released its 70-page report titled ‘Out of Control: Mining, regulatory failure and Human Rights in India’ in Goa Thursday.

“Consider the creation of new Lokayukta institutions, or bolster those offices already in existence, ensuring that they benefit from adequate levels of independence, resources and human capacity along the lines of Karnataka state’s institutional model,” the report recommends to state governments.

The report, which presents mining scenarios in Karnataka and Goa as case studies, also advocates that the state governments should channelise a part of the revenue earned from the mining industry to fund the office of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

“They should also work to establish strong and effective Lokayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman) institutions, or bolster the institutions they already possess. Where any or all of these institutions require additional financial resources, governments should consider earmarking a portion of revenues earned from the mining industry for that purpose,” the report advocates.

It has also said that communities affected by the no-holds-barred mining activity in Karnataka, as well as Goa, had evoked similar stories of suffering.

“The human and environmental toll of Karnataka’s illegal mining boom has not been objectively measured. But activists and members of some affected communities allege that many have suffered real harm that went on unabated and unaddressed for several years during Karnataka’s illegal mining boom. Their complaints mirror the human rights impacts of irresponsible mining operations in Goa and elsewhere in India,” it says.

Describing Karnataka’s Lokayukta institution as “unusually powerful and well-resourced”, the HRW report states that its chairman Santosh Hegde’s report had documented extensive criminal activity linked to the state’s mining sector as well as a “total failure of all supervisory machinery” maintained by government institutions, and patterns of official collusion that sustained these problems.

“Hegde’s report was stunning in the sheer amount of detail that it presented. With that report, the publicity around Karnataka’s mining scandal grew to such proportions that it was a severe national embarrassment and a political liability to the opposition BJP, which controlled Karnataka’s state government,” the report states.

The HRW report has overall indicted the Indian establishment and mining corporations for creating a culture of systemic chaos, corruption and bad policies which end up in large scale violation of human rights.

Illegal mining a reality: Chief Justice Kapadia

Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia Sunday said that illegal mining was going on in various states of the country and called upon the central government to put in place a regulator for both appraisal and pricing of extracted minerals.

‘Illegal mining is going on in different states,’ said Justice Kapadia, who presided over the valedictory function of a seminar ‘Global environment and disaster management: Law and Society’ here.

He said that norms concerning mining were there but these were being flouted at the state level.’All norms and mining plans are there, but at the state level, they are being flouted for some reasons. We do not have machinery to supervise even mining plans for environmental protection. There is a biggest problem of pricing. Time has come when excavated minerals should be judged, auctioned or should have price determining mechanism,’ he said.

‘Over the years, I have come to realise that loopholes are not in law, loopholes are in our character,’ Justice Kapadia added.His remarks come at a time when Karnataka Lokayukta’s yet-to-be submitted report on illegal mining has created a political storm in the state, as it apparently names Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and some other political leaders.

Justice Kapadia said there was under-invoicing in the prices of extracted minerals and it was sold abroad for a huge margin.He said that a problem faced by the apex court was of cases relating to buildings and projects coming up at the end in the form of public interest litigations (PILs).

Justice Kapadia said that in many cases, village bodies initially grant no objection certificates, but later turn their backs and protest against the projects.

His remarks come in the wake of courts stricking down some of the land acquisitions made by the Uttar Pradesh government in Greater Noida.

The Supreme Court had earlier this month quashed acquisition of land in Shahberi village in Greater Noida. A total of 156 hectares of village land was acquired by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) in Shahberi and then sold to developers at exorbitant rates.

The Allahabad High Court too has quashed acquisition of 598 hectares in Patwari village – the second land acquisition struck down by the court this month.

Justice Kapadia called for a regulatory mechanism for appraisement of projects, saying that the authorities cannot rely on the reports of the project proponents.

He also referred to reduction in arable land in the country.He said development should take place in a scientific manner and courts were sometimes faced with cases relating to choosing between protection of livelihood and environment.

Orissa moves Supreme Court over POSCO mining

Orissa Friday moved the Supreme Court against an Orissa High Court order that disapproved its grant of permission to South Korean steel major POSCO to mine iron ore in Sundergarh district, a state minister said.

‘The state government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court today (Friday) against the high court order,’ Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told IANS.

‘The state steel and mines department had recommended the Khandadhar mines in favour of POSCO as per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. There was no violation,’ he said.

A bench of the Orissa High Court July 14 set aside the state government permission to POSCO for prospecting iron ore in over 2,500 hectares in the Khandadhar hills in the state’s Sundergarh.

Policy to curb illegal mining soon, Gujarat tells court

A policy aimed at curbing illegal mining in Gujarat is being formulated, the Narendra Modi government told the Gujarat High Court Monday.

The state government said this in an affidavit filed before a division bench comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi.

The government was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by right to information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa who was allegedly murdered in July this year.

In his PIL, Jethwa alleged that Dinu Solanki, a Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) MP, and his relatives were behind illegal mining around the lion sanctuary of Sasan Gir.

The court Monday gave the state government three weeks’ time to come out with a policy to curb illegal mining and posted the hearing in Nov.

The court Aug 24 permitted Jethwa’s brother, Bhavin, and uncle, Vijay Rathod, to join the case after the death of the RTI activist.

Those arrested in connection with the murder of Jethwa outside the high court in Ahmedabad include police Constable Bahadursinh Vadher, Solanki’s nephew Shiva alias Pratap Solanki and three others.