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SC mining order shocking, spells crisis: Industry players

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Panaji, Feb 8 (PTI) A day after the Supreme Court quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa, industry players in the state today said they were "shocked" by the order and that it would lead to a "crisis situation" for the miners and other stakeholders.

"We are disappointed with the judgement and shocked over it," Ambar Timblo, managing director, Fomento Resources, one of the leading mine owners, told PTI.

"The industry foresees a crisis in the future, if the situation is not corrected."

On being asked whether the industry will file a review petition before the Supreme Court, he said they were studying whether a review is required and if so what is to be reviewed.

The stakeholders are closely monitoring the situation, with the mine owners already terming the development as negative for the industry.

In a joint statement, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association and Goa Mining Association said the apex court order was "substantially negative" on the mining industry and various stakeholders and would create "adverse repercussions" for all the stakeholders.

In October 2012, the Supreme Court, based on the findings of the Justice M B Shah Commission report, which estimated a Rs 35,000-crore loss to the exchequer due to alleged illegal mining over 12 years, had banned mining in all 90 mines in Goa.

The apex court had lifted the ban in April 2014, but put an annual cap of 20 million tonnes on excavation. However, the mining operations could actually resume in August 2015.

The barge owners, who were hoping to get their financial situation eased out, said they are finding themselves in a difficult situation again.

"The scheme providing the debt-relief from the financial institutions with the intervention of state government is getting over on March 31. While the barge-owners were busy arranging for the finances to pay to the banks, the verdict will surely spoil their prospects," Atul Jadhav, former president of Goa Barge Owners Association, said.

He said that several barge owners have also opted for the closure of their loans against their vessel by getting loans from various other banks.

"Now, there will be no business and hence no funds. Even the banks will be not be ready to fund the barge owners," he said.

Jadhav said the mining industry even after its resumption in the year 2015 was unable to make a comeback.

"Each barge used to make 15 trips a month during the normal season. But since September last year till date, not a single barge could make even 10 trips," he said.

The barge owners have decided to approach Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had said that his government is trying to find out a solution to tide over the crisis.

While mining stakeholders are worried about their future, the Goa Forward Party (GFP), an alliance partner in the BJP- led government, was the first one to react with its president Vijai Sardesai expressing the fear that the mining might go out of the hands of the Goans after the SC order.

"We feel the decision of the SC can cleanse the Goan mining industry of illegalities and corrupt practices that brought Goa in the news for all the wrong reasons," Sardesai, who is also a minister in Manohar Parrikar-led cabinet, said.

"However, the frightening scenario is if the new procedure for granting leases may lead to Indianisation of Goa's mining industry allowing bidders from outside to not only take over our mines, but all related ancillary trades," he added.

The minister said this could lead to mafia rule as portrayed in Bollywood film "Gangs of Wasseypur".

"In case there is any such possibility of the control of the mining industry going out of Goa, we would prefer a total shutdown of mining in the state," he said. PTI RPS NP TIR

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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