The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice Ms REVATI MOHITE DERE & Justice Ms M.S. JAWALKAR, today grant ad-interim relief in a PIL filed by the Goa Foundation challenging the permits granted to Mineira Nationale Ltd for removal of 25 lakh tonnes of sub-grade materials (valued at Rs.230 crores) from its former mining lease No.62/51 located at Cuddegal, Santona. The Court stayed the operations with immediate effect.
The Court order is enclosed.
It will be recalled that a large number of complaints had been filed that minerals were being lifted out of the mining lease which belongs to Mineira National Ltd. MNL has not operated the lease from 2012. However, in an application filed on 11.1.2021, MNL asked the Directorate of Mines & Geology to grant it a permit to remove a total of 4.5 million tonnes of “earlier mined ore” mined prior to 2007 from its lease. In its application it claimed all 4.5 million tonnes were on the lease.
The DMG sent a site inspection team to examine the request. The team found 2.5 million tonnes of sub-grade ROM which, when analysed, showed an Fe content of 51%. Though the Goa government only took a Cabinet decision to allow extraction from old leases on 23.2.2021, it had already granted a permit to MNL on 1.2.2021. On the very same date, the DMG had issued a public notice bringing to a halt all mining transportation pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court dated 13.10.2020 which had ruled that after 31.1.2021, all leases would be recovered from parties, including the ore within.
The Goa Foundation argued that no dump mining was permitted, since the Expert Committee’s report on dumping mining was still before the Supreme Court, and the Court was still to hear the matter. The site inspection report of the DMG clearly indicated that the permit was to remove the 2.5 million tonnes from Dump No.3.
Petitioners argued that MNL was being granted a permit to transport ore with a present value of Rs.230 crores all of which had to go to the state of Goa. Instead, it settled for a royalty of Rs.20 crores, willingly giving public money to the former lease-holder.
The Court granted ad-interim relief. Ms Norma Alvares appeared for the petitioner, assisted by Adv. Om D’Costa.