Pramod Sawant asks Centre to relax 2014 restriction on ore transport - Hindustan Times

Pramod Sawant asks Centre to relax 2014 restriction on ore transport

Jun 25, 2024 06:16 PM IST

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant also broached the subject when he called on Union environment minister Bhupenndra Yadav

PANAJI: The Goa government has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to relax its 2014 order that bars the transport of ore through villages and habitations, people familiar with the matter said.

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant at the Parliament House complex in New Delhi (PTI)
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant at the Parliament House complex in New Delhi (PTI)

In a letter to the Union minister, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said the miners didn’t have an option but to transport the ore through the village since the mines were located at the periphery of the village. The issue also came up when Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant called on Union enviornment minister Bhupendra Yadav in New Delhi on Monday.

The environment ministry’s October 2014 office memorandum was cited by Mulakh Khazan Tenants Association, an association of farmers hailing from Mayem village in north Goa, that falls under the Bicholim mining block auctioned by the state government last year, to seek a stay on the transportation.

The 2014 decision was taken by the environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee headed by MS Nagar following concern over the impact of mining activities on villages and other habitations. It required a ‘bypass’ road to be constructed (say, leaving a gap of at least 200 metres) for the transportation of the minerals so that the impact of sound, dust and accidents could be mitigated.

“The PP (Project proponents) shall bear the cost towards the widening and strengthening of the existing public road network in case the same is proposed to be used for the Project. No road movement should be allowed on existing village road networks without appropriately increasing the carrying capacity of such roads,” the memorandum said.

The Goa government’s request has not gone down well with activists who oppose the transportation of ore through the village.

“What the Goa CM is proposing is very dangerous. He is challenging established environmental jurisprudence of India designed to defend village integrity from mining menace. When he and the project proponents knew that there were no legal access roads available for the transportation of mineral iron ore in Pilgao and Mayem, then it was wrong in the first place to go for the auctioning of the ore. It was double wrong to go for the public hearing by concealing this information in the EIA () report,” activist Sebastian Rodrigues said.

The Bombay High Court at Goa, had earlier stayed the transport of ore through the village citing the MoEF&CC’s office memorandum.

Rodrigues said the central government’s 2014 memorandum was designed to protect the villagers. ”Under no circumstances villagers of Mayem and Pilgao and other villages should be put to risk by opening their village roads for transportation of minerals from any of the mining companies,” he added.

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