Why and How 88 mining lease renewals are blatantly illegal

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 28 September 2015 22:04 IST

Cartoon released by GF today

How Goa government could renew the mining leases when they have actually expired in 2007 and why fresh leases were not granted, asks Goa Foundation, while demanding CBI inquiry into the lease renewal.

Besides challenging the lease renewals in the Supreme Court, the GF has thus also challenged the high court order allowing renewal of 88 leases by Goa government in violation of the Supreme Court order.

Addressing a press conference in this regard, GF director Dr Claude Alvares said none of the 88 leases has got the NOC from the standing committee of the National Board of Wild Life, as required by the Supreme Court's order.

He listed out total eight kinds of problems the renewed leases are facing, including the NOC from NBWL, as follows:

1) 31 are renewed on 12 February this year, when the provision for renewing leases ceased to exist on the law books.

2) 54 are renewed in just one week (6-12 January this year). In none of these cases is there any report from the IBM as required; in fact, except in one solitary case, there are no such reports after the SC judgement dated 21 April last year.

3) Only 61 have environment clearances restored on 20 March this year. The renewal of the remaining leases is therefore pointless.

4) 11 Leases have been renewed without forest clearance. These orders are clearly illegal.

5) Practically 24 leases have violated Section 37. However, government claims it is yet to conduct an inquiry.

6) 42 leases have violated Section 38. Results of inquiry, if committed, not known.

7) All leases of Sesa Goa and two other Sesa companies have been found to be illegal, in violation of MMDR Act, in Justice Shah Report III.

8) Of the 61, only 56 applications were accepted by the Goa Pollution Control Board for the purpose of granting consents to operate under the Air and Water Acts. As of today, some 22 mining leases have been granted consent and can operate, as per information made available under the RTI Act on 22 September.

(CLICK BELOW TO READ THE WHOLE LIST)

 

Dr Alvares also explains how and in what haste Goa government renewed the mining leases of the same lease holders.

He says:

In its judgement of 21 April last year, the Supreme Court had declared all mining leases in Goa as “expired” on 22 November 2007. Since the leases had expired, they could not be renewed.

However, due to the control of the Mines Department by miners, the Goa government was determined to hand the leases back to the same old lease-holders.

Thus, within days of the Supreme Court judgement, the Bombay High Court at Goa was approached with writ petitions by former lease-holders. Some of them claimed they had paid stamp duty on demand from the Goa government.

The High Court entertained the petitions and directed the government on 13 August last year to renew the leases.

The Goa government resisted the petition filed by the miners in Court by filing an affidavit stating this could not be done. However, it refused to appeal the High Court's order, forcing the Goa Foundation to approach the Supreme Court instead.

On 5 November last year, the Mines Department began approving the first of several second renewals of leases belonging to former lease-holders.

As soon as the Goa government came to know that an amendment was being brought to the MMDR Act which would eliminate the possibility of renewing leases, it made great haste to grant a total of 54 renewals in the short span of 6 days.

31 of these renewals were granted in one day - on 12 January this year, on which date the provision to grant second renewal had ceased to exist.

On 15 January, the Goa government then announced its withdrawal of the mining suspension order it had issued three years ago, on 10 September 2012.

A few months later, on 20 March, the central Ministry of Environment & Forests also obliged the mining lobby and revoked its suspension of Environment Clearances in respect of 91 mining leases.

(CLICK BELOW TO READ THE WHOLE LIST OF EC VIOLATIONS)

When the Goa Foundation put the second renewal list (of 88 leases) together with this MOEF order, it found that only 61 leases had both a renewal order and the EC restored.”

According to Dr Alvares, all the 88 leases are thus illegal and Goa government has done nothing to file criminal complaints against the former lessees and recover the looted money from them.

CLICK TO READ VIOLATIONS OF 88 LEASES CLICK TO READ EC VIOLATIONS

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