A multi-party delegation from Goa comprising BJP and Congress MLAs met Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Monday and urged the Central government to find ways to resume mining in the State. The delegation was led by senior minister Sudin Dhavalikar. On February 7, the Supreme Court directed that all mining activity in Goa’s 88 operational iron ore mining leases be stopped after March 15 and the leases be issued afresh after obtaining new environmental clearances. In the memorandum to Mr. Gadkari, the delegation which also included Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane (BJP), Speaker Pramod Sawant, and Congress MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar, sought mining leases in Goa be renewed by 20 years, instead of being issued afresh.“We have expressed our concerns to the Central government that re-issuing the mining leases afresh, as directed by the Supreme Court, will result in stopping of mining activity for more than a year, which is an economic loss for Goa and its people,” Mr. Halarnkar said. The delegation is expected to meet Union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar later in the day. However, within the Congress in Goa there is a divided opinion over the renewal issue, with its senior MLA Aleixo Reginaldo demanding that mining leases be auctioned to ensure that the State benefits the most from its natural resources.Goa’s private sector mining is in trouble since 2012 when Justice Shah Commission exposed an estimated ₹35,000 crore illegal mining scam, triggering a ban on mining in the State. The ban was later revoked in 2014 with the Supreme Court laying down strict regulations and a cap of 20 million tonnes of extraction per annum.
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