Iron ore mining ban in the state of Goa on 5 Oct, 2012 has been lifted by the Indian Supreme Court on 21 Apr, 2014 after good 18 months of time.
A cap of 20 MnT pa of fresh production has been set by the apex court which once banned Iron ore mining and export on grounds of illegalities & environment concern. Goa used to be the country’s largest Iron ore exporting state with production of 45 MnT pa, prior to ban imposition and with the resumption of mining activity we expect it’ll regain the status quo over the coming years.
Experts think that perhaps export may resume in Q4 FY15 (during Jan-Mar 2015), after resumption of mining which requires issuance of fresh leases.
“The Honourable Supreme Court judgment is very superior and respectable. On the contrary, lot of NGOs who do not understand the judgment in right spirit, propagate wrong ideas.”
Two Aspects of the Apex Court Pronouncement
1. After 2007, the time for 2nd renewal of leases, the operations of renewed mines, which was done with the help of deeming provision has been considered illegal. This is for the reason that the mining lease deeds have not been executed by the state government.
Why has Supreme Court given such interpretation of the law? Although, law very clearly mentions that if a lease holder applies for renewal within time and if that application is not rejected, it’s deemed to be renewed or the lease is renewed. Also, it does not mention that the lease is not allowed for 2nd renewal. In India, there are mines operating even with 3rdrenewal of lease, renewed on deemed basis. So, in such a situation, why has this judgment not turned out to be applicable everywhere?
The Supreme Court does not want that the deemed renewal clause of the law be misused. It has probably identified that some have applied with a backdate and got their lease renewed. Now, the Supreme Court has said that mining operations are legal only after the lease deed has been executed.
There was a lease which has been renewed 2nd or 3rd time and it is operating, as renewed with prevalent understanding of the law by state government and lease holder, since the application for renewal was made on time and was not rejected. Such lease needs to be executed immediately by the state government with effect from its due date of renewal.
The state government has agreed on Returns & Royalty. MOEF has also given permission under its guidelines and also spelled out the ore quantity that can be mined every year. As the judgment has come out in 2014, direction should have been given to the state government that in case if the state is operating mines through a lease holder with understanding of law, within six months, these leases can be executed and restarted. Since the Goan government has collected stamp duty from lease holders for its renewal, they will renew the leases with effect from 2007.
2. Dumping outside lease is illegal but a large part of the dumping done outside lease is with consent of IBM (plan for dumping), State Government (usage of land for industrial purpose) and MOEF (agreed for through submission of plan). And still, if it is being termed illegal, we will have to find a way to operationalize this judgment.