PANAJI: In what could be a setback to the Sawant government’s efforts to restart the mining industry, the High Court of Bombay at Goa said that winning bidders of freshly auctioned mining blocks will have to obtain environment clearances (EC) afresh before resuming mining operations.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Sociedade de Fomento Industrial Pvt Ltd, one of the winning bidders, who had contended that a winning bidder need not have to obtain fresh environment clearances before carrying out mining operations.
“However, we clarify that fresh ECs will have to be obtained even by the successful bidders to Block -VII or other Blocks to which the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in GF-I and GF-II apply or to mining blocks in respect of which the ECs were cancelled by the MoEF by order dated 23.04.2018,” said the order by Justices Valmiki Menezes and Mahesh Sonak.
Petitioner Claude Alvares said the Goa Foundation filed the intervention application as soon as it came to know of the petition.
He said that the Goa government had decided that mining on these blocks could commence immediately if they were not required to obtain fresh ECs.
“But with the high court respectfully declining to support that decision, all mining blocks will now have to obtain fresh ECs. Thus, all prospects of mining resuming immediately have ended up in smoke…,” he said.
The Goa government’s misguided plans to auction the mining blocks without the need of successful bidders to get fresh ECs was quashed by the high court, he said.
Alvares said the state government tried to bypass the Supreme Court’s orders by claiming that it could extend the ECs given to mining lease holders as they were issued under the environmental impact assessment (EIA) 2006 notification by which an EC is valid for 30 years.