GMPF expresses anguish as the Central Govt has failed to give any consideration for restarting of Goa mining in the recent mineral reforms that are proposed by Central Government
Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), representing the livelihood cause of over 3 lakhs people dependent on the mining industry in the state of Goa, held a meeting with the respective stakeholder leaders and appealed to the Union Government to consider an amendment in the ‘The Goa Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration of Mining Leases Act, 1987), by making this abolition act prospective from 1987 by amending it to make is prospective from the current provision of it being retrospective.
In response to Mines Ministry Proposal for Mining Reforms, GMPF had suggested the Central Government have provision for the restart of Goa’s mining which is a stalemate for last three years but there is nothing proposed in the current reforms for the much-needed restart of Goa Mining Industry.
GMPF’s suggestion is in line with the State of Goa, which reportedly has written to the Union Government on multiple occasions since 2018 for the legislative cure/amendment, which shall clarify the period of Lease until 2037 by making the abolition act Prospective (i.e. 50 Years as mandated under MMDR Act 2015). The proposed reform would have brought Goa at par with other states in the Union of India to harmonize with the MMDR Act amendment of 2015.
Appealing to the Government, Mr. Puti Gaonkar, President, GMPF, said, “We express our anguish that the recent mining reforms have nothing to revive the mining industry in Goa, and our suggestion to include Goa’s interest has not been considered. Goa’s mining stalemate has completed its third year due to the legal interpretation and legal flaws done in the past in the Goa abolition act, which converted the mining Concession to mining Leases. This disparity meted out to Goa mining has not only brought economic instability in the state but has also taken away the livelihoods of 3 Lakh people whose primary source of earnings had been from the mining activities. More than 75000 people who worked in the mining industry in the state have lost their earning or are on the verge of losing it with no alternate income source. Instead, we are burdened with the rising cost of living and pressing loan repayment, thereby exhausting people’s precious savings for their plans. Life is getting more difficult for the mining-dependent people, with the unemployment rate in the state skyrocketing and the Goa growth rate falling below the national level. By delaying restarting of mining in the state, the Goa government is losing the opportunity to collect the higher taxation revenue from the mining industry by failing to capitalize on current high international demand and high prices for low-grade Iron ore. The taxes collected from Iron ore by the state are directly proportional to the international ore prices for the period, so the Govt is losing the opportunity of revenue and employment generation in the state. Hopefully, we will see the end of the Covid pandemic soon. The tourism industry, which is the only other top employment for the state and the mining sector, needs to be boosted by doing whatever it takes because gaining travelers’ confidence is difficult to predict. Seeing the global trend on traveling and Tourism, tourism will take some time to get back to its glory. However, mining restart is a stork away of Govt decision to restart mining in the state if there is a will at Central Government to get the state revenue and state employment back to its glory. The Government should not lose this precious opportunity, especially considering the current international market demand for low-grade ore, which may cease to exist in the future. We urge the State and Central Government for consideration of amendment of Goa Daman and Diu Abolition Act 1987 in the ongoing Parliament to make the act prospective from 1987 so that life of the lease is extended till 1987, as this route is the fastest solution to restart mining to address the grave issue of livelihood in Goa and will save Goans from this current grave economic situation immediately. We are also open to any other solution for mining restart provided the mining starts at the ground during the current season itself so that all formality of permissions, re-employment, and other preparedness is done for readiness for next season.”
The tourism industry is also a big employment generator in Goa with the mining sector coming second, but the mining sector overtakes all other industries in the state with respect to State revenue due to its high taxation structure. The unprecedented Covid pandemic has further intensified the lack of employment in the state. Even though the state Govt is doing its best to boost the tourism industry in the state, it will take some time to get it back to its old glory so to say it will be a challenge to revive it to the full extent in the near future. The state, which collected Rs 15,000 crore in revenues last year, is already facing a 70 percent revenue shortfall in the current fiscal. The state debts are standing at an all-time high of Rs. 22000 Crores and increasing which repayment will be a stumbling block for future development and a burden on the future generations of Goa. The unemployment situation is at an all-time high as both the sectors – Tourism and Mining cannot provide livelihoods to the Goans.
“ We are unable to understand why the Central Government is not actively stepping in to rescue the state for restarting mining in Goa. Goa Chief Ministers tells us that all proposals have already been given to Central Government and that the state government is doing its best by continuously following up with the central Government. Why is the Central Government neglecting the interest of common Goan mining dependent people? Why are we left at the mercy of the judiciary? Are we common people responsible for the current mining stalemate? We are sure the judiciary will give proper justice in context with legality and interpretations but if its delays mining restart, it will further harm our already precarious economic conditions. Our trucks will get unfit for roadworthiness soon and put out investment down the drain with no capacity to invest in the future. The idea of Atmanirbhar gets defeated here. The Central government should now step in to save our livelihood.” – Balaji Gauns from Dharbandora Truck Owners Association added pleading to the Central Government.
In the wake of this unparalleled crisis witnessed by the people of Goa, the above Amendment is sought from the union Govt, to recommence mining with immediate effect