MoEF finds these leases operating without valid EC’s, Goa Foundation and Shankar Jog, moved NGT challenging leases operating without valid EC; SC judgment in Talaulikar & Sons versus Union of India and others case, basis for NGT complaint
PANJIM: In what could lead to a cascading effect on the already fragile iron ore mining industry in the State, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has directed 24 mining leases to go for fresh public hearings for grant of Environment Clearances. These leases were found to be operating without valid ECs from the Ministry.
The 24 leases belong to Chowgule & Co Pvt Ltd (3 leases), Sesa Mining Corp Ltd (five leases), EMCO Goa Pvt Ltd (2 leases), Pandurang Timblo (two leases),Sociedade Timblo Irmaos Ltd Rep Timblo Pvt. Ltd (two leases), Sesa Resources Ltd (six leases), and one lease each of M S Talaulikar, Baddrudin Husainbhai Mavani Sova, RS Shetye & Bros, VG Quenim and Rajesh Timblo.
Goa Foundation and one Shankar Jog, had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging mining activities undertaken by the lessees without valid EC in view of the Supreme Court judgement dated July 12, 2016 delivered in the Talaulikar & Sons versus Union of India and others case. NGT had then directed MoEF to dispose the matter after taking due decision.
Goa Foundation director Dr Claude Alvares, reacting to the Environment ministry direction said that all the 24 mining leases will have to face fresh public hearings, based on which the ECs will be then granted. “The Ministry has upheld the Supreme Court judgment and issued the order accordingly,” he said.
The Apex Court in its judgment had said, “No party can carry out mining activity without a valid EC granted under the provisions of the EIA notification issued under the EPA 1986.” The Court had asked MoEF to take a fresh look for continuation of EC of Talaulikar after scrupulously following the various relevant factors like effective public hearing.
“The Ministry has taken a decision that fresh public hearing is required in the case of Talaulikar & Sons. As the judgment of the Supreme Court in the transfer petition Talaulikar & Sons is applicable, you are required to conduct fresh public hearing and follow the instructions of the Court,” the Ministry’s advisor Surendra Kumar said in the letter, which has the above mentioned lease holders as respondents.
The petitioners, who had initially approached the Ministry, had pointed out that mining leases were granted ECs under the 1994 EIA Notification for a period of two years only, subject to production of a hydro-geological study. “In their cases too, once they submitted the hydro-geological study to MoEF, Ministry illegally extended the original ECs without a public hearing and EAC consideration of the proposal,” it stated.