The Goa Legislative Assembly discussed the crisis in the states iron ore mining sector with the government assuring legislators of a new mining policy to address it.
Congress leader Pratapsinh Rane moved a calling attention motion on the floor of the House urging the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court on its recent verdict which quashed 88 mining leases in the state.
The apex court had suggested that the leases be auctioned.
Responding on the floor of the House, Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said that the state government would consider all options before it to ensure that the mining industry sustains.
Dhavalikar, who is the leader of the House in the absence of chief minister Manohar Parrikar, said the government would formulate a new mining policy.
Rane said that the government should not allow the sector to close down, adding that every measure should be taken to save the livelihood of people associated with it. “There are 6-7 families dependent on every truck in the mining industry,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo said that there were at least two lakh families dependent on the mining business in Goa.
Lobo wished that Parrikar, who is currently hospitalised in Mumbai, should recover soon and hold a high powered meeting on the issue.
BJP legislator Nilesh Cabral, who represents the iron ore rich constituency of Curchorem, said that auctioning the leases was not a solution.
“There are other ways within the legal parameters which can be worked out,” he said.
Meanwhile, around 5,000 people including truck owners and miners along with their family members protested at Azad maidan here.
“We are against the auctioning of mining leases. If they are auctioned, they might be run by other mine owners and this would result in uncertainty over the employment of existing workers,” said Satyawan Gaonkar, secretary, South Goa Progressive Truck Owners Association.
Gaonkar said that as per the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concession (Abolition and Declaration of Mining Leases) Act, 1987, the mining concessions given to the workers had got converted into leases.
“Under this Act, the leases are given for exploration for a period fifty years, which means their lives will end in the year 2037,” he said.
He said that the state government should pass an ordinance in the legislative assembly to implement this Act in order to nullify the SC judgment.