Have urged PM to alter Goa Abolition Act to resume mining: Sawant
Panaji: The Goa government has written a “special letter” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers in his cabinet, appealing to alter the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987, as a possible legislative cure to resume the mining industry in the state at the earliest.
“We have sent a special letter to the Prime Minister, Home Minister Amit Shah and (Union) Mines Minister Prahlad Joshi to change the Goa Abolition Act. We have given suggestions for legislative or judicial cure and have sought help,” Sawant told reporters on Saturday.
Before Goa was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961, mining leases in the state were perpetual concessions granted by the Portuguese colonists for exploration and exploitation.
After liberation, the central government via the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987, converted with retrospective effect the same perpetual concessions into mining leases under the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1954, making them valid for a fixed tenure of 50 years, which lapsed in 2007.
Though passed by Parliament in 1987 in the case of Goa, a late entrant into the Indian Union of states, the law was retrospectively brought into effect from 1961, the year Goa was liberated from Portuguese reign.
The Supreme Court in its February 2018 order, has held that any mining carried out since 2007 was illegal and also underlined irregularities in the renewal of the now-lapsed mining leases.
The holders of the now defunct leases, as well as the state government argue that doing away with the retrospective clause in the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) act, 1987, would extend the validity of the leases to 2037, and ensure quick resumption of mining, as against going through the time-consuming process of conducting auctioning of the leases or setting up a government corporation to harvest the ore.
Sawant said that he was optimistic about a good response from the Prime Minister on the issue, given the latter’s thrust on resumption of the coal and mining sector to revive the country’s economy.
“Modiji has focussed on coal and iron ore mines for revival of the country’s economy. I welcome this initiative,” Sawant said.