Herald: New rule could dash hopes of early mining resumption

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New rule could dash hopes of early mining resumption

14 Mar 2019 05:55am IST
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14 Mar 2019 05:55am IST

In draft notification MoEF makes fresh Environmental Clearance mandatory for all leases that have expired; Will apply to all leases even expired ones

SHWETA KAMAT


PANJIM: Through a draft notification, the Union government has made grant of fresh Environmental Clearance (EC) following due public consultation process, mandatory for all those leases which stands expired, irrespective of its validity at time when the lease period lapsed. The rule, if comes into force, will further shatter the mining dependents’ dream of an immediate resumption of iron ore activities in Goa, which have been shut for the last 12 months. 

The draft notification issued on February 27, 2019, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) decided to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court dated February 7, 2018 in Special Leave to Appeal in the matter of Goa Foundation versus Sesa Sterlite Ltd and Ors, and inter alia has directed to obtain fresh EC for those who are successful in obtaining fresh leases. 

A senior official said that the notification also applies to Goa mines, as currently, all the leases stand expired and on grant of fresh leases, the lease holder will have to opt for fresh ECs. “This notification applies to all leases that are currently expired or are on verge of expiring,” official said. 

The leases granted to 88 iron ore mining stand quashed and set aside by the Supreme Court through an order dated February 7, 2018, wherein it directed the State government to initiate the process for granting fresh leases. As such, as on date, no mining lease is valid in Goa and all stands expired.

MoEF Joint Secretary Geeta Menon in the notification said that the Central government directs implementation of the Supreme Court judgment as well as continuation of the mining activity without any changes to the approved mining scheme, mining plan, production capacity, mine lease areas specified in the EC granted under the provisions of the EIA notification, 2006, through an expeditious mechanism for grant of fresh EC.

Those who manage to get the mining lease have to apply afresh under EIA notification 2006, for grant of EC. The applications will be considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee or the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee, as the case may be, who has to decide in the light of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP). 

Also, there shall be need for preparation of fresh EIA report and public consultation and will be appraised for grant of EC to the same validity period as was initially granted. 

The draft has been kept open for public comments for a period of 60 days. 

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