Ban lifted, but Goa mining won't start till Oct: Parsekar


The environment ministry may have lifted the ban on iron ore mining in Goa, but the coastal state's economic "lifeline" probably won't be functional till October, chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar told ET.

"They (miners) are required to invest every year before the beginning of the season, which commences from September-October and continues till May. As of now, we have reached the fag end of March, they would get only 45 or 60 days. So probably that would not be economical," Parsekar explained while speaking to ET in the capital on Thursday. 

Others who may resume mining this season are those with stretched resources, who have retained and paid their staff, according to the chief minister.

Why Jaitley did not waive export duty 

Parsekar conceded that export duty for iron ore at 30 per cent was "steep" and multiple clearances were needed, which affect the sector, already struggling with poor global demand. 

Confirming that he had taken up the issue with finance minister Arun Jaitley again after the budget, Parsekar said he believed Jaitley is wary about losing revenue from other states. "He cannot make it (export duty exemption) specific to Goa itself. He cannot afford to lose such huge revenue (if exemption is made for all states). But some miners will resume soon for sure," said Parsekar. 

He said clearances within the Goa government's jurisdiction would be facilitated quickly. "I believe they only need a certificate clearance (NOC) from pollution control board, which is of course at the state level, and I would definitely help them in that regard if they approach. Mining is the lifeline of Goa," he said. To address environmental concerns, the government plans to revive the idea of separate corridors for trucks carrying iron ore so that habitations are not affected. 

Citing a Marathi expression - "Ati tithe maati"—Parsekar said the "realisation of the adverse impact of excess mining as well as the ban among citizens and all stakeholders" will ensure mining is done properly this time. 

Social welfare schemes & new sectors 

Parsekar emphasised that schemes for the welfare of mining-affected people along with the rescheduling of loans, among others, will continue. "We will not cut down on them. In fact, we started two new schemes after the mining ban and continue to fund them," Parsekar said. 

While tourism and mining remain indispensable for the economy, Parsekar has an unorthodox approach to fund such schemes and to facilitate job generation. Instead of promising big-ticket and capital-intensive projects, Parsekar is looking at "non-polluting" and "job-generating" industries and projects, especially for locals, on a smaller scale. 

Events like 'Vibrant Gujarat' are not on his mind. "We have an investment promotion board to do that...We don't feel the need for holding summits," he said. Goa is a small state with limited land, so the focus is on delivering jobs for locals. 

To fulfill the jobs agenda, the sectors that Parsekar has in mind are information technology, horticulture and pharmaceuticals, while tourism remains the key. 

"Goa is a tourist destination, but we also want to make it a conference destination, also infrastructure destination. In the short term, things like road widening and additional bridges, constructing a big 10,000-seat conference hall, all are onetime investments but they fetch revenue over a period of time," Parsekar said.

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When BJP will recover 35 Thousand Corers from Congress? These amount should invest in making roads, etc. and to give 24x7 water and electricity to each Goan houses.

- Mathew Dias, Goa | 24 th March 2015 19:00


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