Goa- MOPA Airport a ploy to push real estate rates #Makanakamopa


Wednesday, 05 June 2013 | Mayabhushan | Panaji

The proposed Greenfield international airport in Mopa is nothing but a ploy by politicians cutting across political lines to push real estate rates up for their benefits, a group of farmers alleged on Tuesday.

Addressing a Press conference in Panaji on Tuesday, Mopa Vimantall Pidit Xetkar Samiti, a body of farmers protesting against the acquisition of land for the proposed international airport, named three politicians, who had purchased land in the vicinity of the airport site at Mopa village, located 40 kms north of the capital, near the Goa-Maharashtra border.

Samiti’s secretary Sandeep Kambli, said, “Laxmikant Parsenkar, Ramakant Khalap and Wilson Godinho, brother of Congress MLA Mauvin Godinho are those who we know have bought land near Mopa. We have copies of the sale deeds in their names. There maybe more, we do not know about yet,” Kambli said.

The samiti said that the State does not need a second airport and that the new one is being forced on the State. Neither of the politicians named have denied making the purchases rather sought to justify them.

BJP spokesperson Damodar Naik said that the Parsekar’s land purchases at Mopa were genuine and without ulterior motive. Khalap and Mauvin who have both publicly supported the coming up of the new airport have insisted that their support was for the holistic development. and ‘jobs’ a functioning airport would give the local residents.

Goa presently has one airport, run by the Indian Navy, while the civilian terminal is controlled by the Airports Authority of India. The airport is at Dabolim and is equidistant from Goa’s north, south and eastern extremes.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has also defended the airport saying that increasing air passenger traffic, combined with military restrictions on timing and access to areas within the airport had forced both the central as well as the State Government to start another airport in north Goa.

The Mopa airport, on a plateau at Goa’s northernmost tip, however, as been the centre of a political storm especially since the current Government decided to fast track the process, almost creating a North Goa-South Goa divide.

South Goa politicians claim that once Mopa is operational, the military airport at Dabolim would be off-limits to civilians. The extent of how real this fear us was exemplified by the fact that the proponents of the airport have had to repeatedly insist that Dabolim will not be shut down.

Kambli along with 60 farmers have already approached the Bombay High court seeking a stay on the acquisition of over 23 lakh sq mts land required for the airport.

 

Fake ration cards being used for #Aadhaar cards in Goa #UID


aadhaar

Pilerne Citizens Forum in Goa has filed a complaint with Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India

News | by IANS

PANAJI, GOA: Bogus ration cards, a fact which has been acknowledged by Goa’s civil supplies ministry, are being used to acquire Aadhaar cards in the state, a civil society group claimed Thursday.

“Bogus ration cards are being used as identity proofs, especially in slum areas, to get Aadhaar cards. This will reduce the social security number exercise to a farce,” Yatish Naik, a spokesperson of the Pilerne Citizens Forum (PCF) told reporters here.

The PCF, which brought to light instances where ration cards had been forged by the hundreds a couple of years back, has filed a complaint with Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India — in-charge of the central agency implementing the Aadhaar card project.

“We have asked Nilekani to plug this loophole,” Naik said.

The civil supplies ministry has already ordered a probe into the problem of fake ration cards after a ruling legislator told the Goa assembly recently that Nepali and Bangladeshi nationals had obtained ration cards by forging documents.

 

#India – Chaos in the iron age #mustshare


Author(s):
M Suchitra
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-5-31

miningPhotos: M Suchitra

Bellary district of Karnataka and Goa portray India’s very own gold rush. Today, they are the bywords for rampant violation of mining and environmental laws, unscientific depletion of resources and concentration of mining profits in the hands of a few. The plunder has also spread to other iron ore-rich states of the country.

It all started around 2003-04 with China going on a construction spree in the run up to the 2008 Olympics.

China is the principal importer of Indian iron ore and procures 91 per cent of what India exports, according to the Indian Bureau of Mines(Interactive graphic: India’s iron ore exports to various countries over the years) [1]

Before 2003, it used to buy only high-grade iron ore, with at least 58 per cent iron content. But with the Olympics approaching, it started procuring even fines (ore in powder form) and ores with as low as 45 per cent of iron content. The Chinese developed technology that enabled them to mix this low-grade ore with very high-grade ore imported from Brazil and Australia. The Chinese demand also pushed up the international prices of iron ore.

This paved the way for chaos and scams that India’s iron ore-rich states witness today. Everyone hoped for a windfall from the sudden demand. Those who owned mines and those who did not mined without clearances, encroached upon forest and other’s lease areas; and excavated, transported and exported more than permitted. No one stuck to the approved mining plan. They even extracted minerals from waste dumps. It was a colossal plunder in connivance with the state governments, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and IBM. The states lost revenue and the nation its rich resources. In the process of reckless mining, forests were cleared, hills were ravaged, farmlands were destroyed, streams and rivers were polluted, groundwater got contaminated, and the health of people and livestock was compromised.

Government-appointed committees entered the scene and unearthed shocking stories of illegalities and loot of iron ore. They also brought to the fore the intertwined interests of politicians and industry and the failure of the authorities to regulate mining.

Karnataka and Goa were the first ones to come under scanner. In Karnataka, the Lokayukta, the state’s ombudsman, estimated in its July 2011 report the total loss to the state exchequer at Rs 16,085 crore. The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) interim report on Bellary in April 2011 estimated that between 2003 and 2010, Rs 15,245 crore worth of iron ore was illegally exported from the region. It recommended a ban on mining in the region.

Percentage of India’s total iron ore production from different states (darker shade indicates higher production)
Take mouse over states for statistics

 

But in its February 2012 report, CEC backtracked and recommended resuming iron ore mining in Bellary and two other districts subject to conditions. It prescribed a model on the basis of which legality of mines can be categorised and they can be allowed to operate. It also suggested ways to restore the devastated ecology of the region (see ‘Bellary to bleed again’ [2]).

Mining companies in Goa are now going through the tests that Bellary was put through in the last two years. Surveys are under way, data is being compiled, accounts are being audited. Justice M B Shah Commission, constituted by the Centre in 2010 to probe illegal mining of iron and manganese ore in the country, has submitted its report, following which the Goan government has imposed a ban on mining of iron ore in the state. One of the key findings of the Shah Commission is that the state is incurring losses to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore due to illegal iron ore mining. The Supreme Court is also hearing the matter. As CEC is estimating losses from illegal mining in Goa, the mining industry in the state is under constant fear that CEC might recommend the Bellary model for Goa’s mines (see ‘Goa next’ [3]).

The next in line is Odisha. The 2010-11 report of IBM shows Odisha produces the maximum 37 per cent of iron ore in the country, followed by Karnataka and Goa (see graph). The Shah Commission has already heard mining companies and is preparing its report on the extent of illegalities in the state.

The Supreme Court’s Bellary judgement is the first of its kind in a mining case involving illegalities, irregularities, criminalities and corruption of unbelievable magnitude, and sets a precedent for all cases related to illegal mining, be it in Goa, Odisha, Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand.

M Suchitra from Bellary and Sugandh Juneja from Goa analyse whether it is possible to safeguard the environment while keeping the industry happy and if the Supreme Court order for Karnataka can be a one-size-fits-all policy.

Bellary to bleed again

Supreme court eases ban on mining in Bellary. it is doubtful if its ravaged environment can be healed

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/28(33).jpg” width=”457″ height=”343″ border=”0″ />At least eight companies have resumed mining in Bellary

 

 

It’s sleepless nights again for the residents of Kamtur village. Located on the fringes of the Kumaraswamy forest range, one of the six iron ore-bearing mountaintops in Karnataka’s Bellary district, Kamtur is surrounded by seven mines. On April 18, the Supreme Court eased ban on mining in Bellary, which used to be the nerve-centre of India’s illegal iron ore mining till two years ago.

Kamtur residents say they have lost almost everything to the frenzied mining—their fields, crops, grazing land, streams and even a large portion of their common burial ground. “Mines were encroaching upon us from all sides,” says N H Malleswaram, a member of the gram sabha. Most people sold their land to mine owners under threat. Those who managed to retain their land could not grow anything as piles of red iron dust rendered their fields barren. “We want to live without iron dust in our lungs,” says 70-year-old Thimmappa. Like many others in the village, he also suffers from breathing difficulty. The primary health centre in the village is a small, unfinished building where cattle take refuge from searing heat.

The Supreme Court ban in July 2011 had offered them some relief. During the ban, only the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), India’s largest public sector mining company, was operating in their neighbourhood.

ballery

On April 18, the court lifted the ban on 90 iron mines with certain conditions. With this, 108 of the 166 mines in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur may soon be back in business. Eight of the 18 mines that received the court’s approval in September last year, are operating.

The court’s judgement is based on the recommendation of its forest advisory wing, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which probed illegal mining in Bellary and the two other districts. The court had ordered the investigation after Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS), a non-profit in Dharwad, filed a public interest petition in 2009 against the state government for not curbing illegal mining in the region.

While Kamtur and several other villages in the hinterlands of the three iron ore mining districts are worried, mine owners and ore-starved steel industries rejoice over the judgement.

“Since the ban we have been operating at 60-70 per cent capacity due to ore crunch,” says P K Murugan, vice-president of JSW Steel. JSW, one of the largest integrated steel companies in India, requires 60,000 tonnes a day for its plant at Toranagallu in the heart of high-grade iron ore belt of Bellary-Hospet. “We want mining to come back in full swing,” hesays. Srinivasa Rao of Karnataka Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association, says the ban has rendered half of the 70 sponge iron plants sick.

Byword for plunder

What attracts these mining and steel companies to Bellary is its rich deposit of reddish-brown haematite iron ore, a high-quality ore with iron content up to 65 per cent. A 2005 estimate by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) puts the reserves in Bellary at 1,148 million tonnes. Before the ban, Karnataka produced about 40 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), one-fifth of the country’s annual iron ore production. Eighty per cent of this came from Bellary.

But this was just the official figure. The actual production of iron ore through illegal mining was much more and so was illegal export (see ‘Illegal export…’). The sudden spurt in iron ore and steel prices in the international market following China’s demand was showing its impact. Bellary had become the byword for plunder.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/29-1.jpg” width=”450″ height=”218″ border=”0″ />Figures in million tonnes Sources: Central Empowered Committee report, Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education report

“The government took no corrective measures even after the Lokayukta, the state’s Ombudsman, filed a detailed report in 2008 on illegal mining,” says S R Hiremath, president of SPS.

The report brought to light chilling stories of illegalities, irregularities and crimes by the mining mafia in connivance with politicians and bureaucrats. Bellary was transformed into a republic of lawlessness by mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy, his brothers Karunakara Reddy, Somasekhara Reddy, and their close associate B Sriramulu. In 2008, they became part of the BJP-led state government. Janardhan Reddy became tourism minister and miniter in-charge of Bellary, Karunakara Reddy the revenue minister, B Sriramulu the health minister and Somasekhara Reddy headed the state milk development corporation.

Timeline

2003 China boom begins

2003 Karnataka de-reserves 1,162,000 ha for private mining

2004 Report of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on planning and management of scientific mining in Karnataka. Report gathers dust

2005-10 Demand peaks. Reckless mining and export begins. Loss to state: Rs 16,085 crore

2006 State government appointed Justice U L Bhatt Commission to probe illegal mining. No significant result

2007 Investigation goes to the Lokayukta

2008 Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde submits first report on mining irregularities. Indicts B S Yeddyurappa and many senior officials and companies. Government ignores the report

2009 Non-profit Samaj Parivartana Samudaya files petition in Supreme Court

2010 Supreme Court asks CEC to investigate. Karnataka bans export of iron ore

2011 CEC submits interim report. Lokayukta submits its second report. Then chief minister Yeddyurappa quits. Supreme Court imposes ban on mining, first in Bellary, then extends it to Chitradurga and Tumkur. NMDC exempted. CBI arrests Gali Janardhan Reddy for illegal mining

2012 Supreme Court allows 18 mines to resume operation

April 18, 2013 Allows 90 mines to operate. Cancels 51 leases. Suspends 7. Caps production at 30 million tonnes per annum

There was tremendous political pressure on the mines department to issue new leases. Even when the state’s requirement was 20-25 MTPA, IBM gave permission for 82 MTPA of iron ore. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) sanctioned clearances. According to a statement by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in the Assembly in 2010, between 2003-2010, 30.5 million tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 15,245 crore was plundered from Bellary. The Lokayukta’s final report in July 2011 estimated the state’s loss due to illegal mining was more than Rs 16,000 crore. Yeddyurappa had to step down from the chief minister’s post since he was also indicted in the report. Janardhan Reddy has been behind the bars since September 2011.

Large-scale mining in Bellary led to severe damage to its environment, reveals an environmental impact assessment by the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun. ICFRE did the study in 2011 on behalf of the state government as directed by the Supreme Court. It found 9,500 ha of forests have been cleared for mining in Bellary alone. Air has been severely polluted and groundwater contaminated with iron, manganese and fluorides. A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report released last year reveals increased incidence of tuberculosis, respiratory disorders and decreased livestock population in the region.

In the interim report submitted in April 2011, CEC had expressed shock and concern over the magnitude of legal violations. All mining scams in the country become insignificant in front of Bellary, it observed. In its final reports, CEC changed stance and suggested the court should allow mining.

“CEC seems to be acting as an engine for resuming mining rather than protecting the forest and the environment,” alleges Hiremath.

Conditions apply

For restarting mining, CEC classified mines into A, B and C categories, taking encroachment as the criterion for determining whether their operations were legal or illegal. Forty-five mines which did not encroach or encroached in small ways outside their sanctioned area come under category A. Category B mine are those which encroached an area up to 10 per cent of the lease area through mining pits and up to 15 per cent by way of waste dumping. This category includes seven mines along the inter-state boundary destroyed by Gali’s mines in Andhra Pradesh. The court has allowed all category A and 63 out of 72 category B mines to resume operations. It has suspended the seven leases till the boundary is fixed by the Surveyor General of India. Category C mines are those where the leaseholder has encroached on more than 10 per cent of the lease area through mining pits and over 15 per cent by dumping waste. The court ordered cancelling 51 leases, including all 49 category C leases.

“The category C leases are cancelled because they were involved in flagrant violation of the Forest Conservation Act or mining in others’ lease areas,” the court observed in the judgement. The cancelled leases will be auctioned through international tenders.

“This categorisation is faulty,” says Hiremath. It takes encroachment as the only criterion for determining whether operations were legal or illegal. It is arbitrary to measure the extent of encroachment as percentage of the sanctioned lease area, instead of the actual encroached area, points out P Vishnu Kamath, co-petitioner in the case. Kamath says there should be only legal and illegal categories, decided on the basis of encroachment, the quantity of ore extracted by leaseholders and other illegalities like mining without clearances, evading royalty and subletting leases.

In fact, the Supreme Court in its order of September 28, 2012 had asked CEC to constitute a committee and assess within three months the actual quantity of ore illegally extracted by each leaseholder. “CEC has not constituted the committee so far,” says Hiremath.

Moreover, category A leaseholders are not holy cows, Kamath says. Many of them have leases in other two categories. Minerals Enterprises Ltd, the first company that resumed operation after the ban, has two leases in category B. State-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd, which has been named in Lokayukta reports, has one mine in category A, but two in category B and one in category C. “This is as if you murder somebody in Andhra Pradesh and claim to be innocent in Karnataka,” says Kamath.

Quite naturally, category A leaseholders are happy. Category B leaseholders heave a sigh of relief and prefer not to comment on categorisation. Those who come under category C are crestfallen. They argue that the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act has not fixed any percentage for assessing encroachment, and hence such categorisation violates the Act. Anil Lad, owner of VSL Mining Company and the newly elected MLA from Bellary, says he will file a review petition against putting his mine in category C. Tapal Ganesh, a small-time mine owner, the only one who resisted Gali’s diktats, sounds depressed. His mine falls among the seven suspended by the court. “I do not think I will be able to start my family business in near future,” says he. He was physically attacked by Gali’s goons when in 2010 he tried to give statements to CEC.

Industry needs protected

To meet the state’s requirement, the court has capped the amount that can be extracted from the region—25 MTPA from Bellary and 5 MTPA from Chitradurga and Tukmur. It says the ore produced should be used only by the steel and other industries in Karnataka and neighbouring areas. The judgement does not ban export, but says only those ore rejected by the domestic industries can be exported. It has also lifted the embargo on issuing new mining leases.

To avoid illegalities, the court has asked the leaseholders who have been allowed to operate to get all clearances afresh. Besides, they will have to implement reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan in a time-bound manner. The main thrust of R&R plan is afforestation, developing safety zone, green belt, soil conservation through controlling surface runoff by building retaining walls, check dams, rock-fill dams and stabilisation of accumulated waste dumps. ICFRE is preparing R&R plan for each mine and has done it for 70 leases.

Category A mines can start mining after initiating R&R plan and after the monitoring committee, set up by the Supreme Court in 2011 to carry out e-auction of the ore, certifies its progress. Category B mines will have to complete R&R plan before resuming work. Though leases of category C mines have been cancelled, they will also have to implement R&R plan. “Nobody can escape from implementing R&R,” says Dipak Sarmah, additional principal chief conservator of forests and chairperson of the monitoring committee.

image

  • Net Present Value (NPV) Rs 8-10 lakh/ha of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. This is a one-time payment
  • Afforestation cost: Rs 1.25 lakh/ha. For this mine owner identifies revenue land equal to lease area. The forest department does afforestation
  • Safety zone: Rs 1.25 lakh/ha. Miners have to develop a 7.5-metre green belt along the boundary of the lease inside the lease area
  • Royalty: 10 per cent of the net sales value. This was abysmally small till 2008 at Rs 19 per tonne of fines and Rs 27 per tonne of lumps
  • Forest Development Tax (FDT): 12 per cent of net sales value. The tax was introduced in 2008. Mining companies moved the high court, which ordered to pay 6 per cent tax till the case is finalised. Case pending.
  • Value added tax (VAT): 2 per cent of net sales value
  • Production cost/tonne: Rs 300
  • Average price of iron ore/tonne: Rs 2,500
  • Profit calculated: 500-600%
  • After starting e-auction in 2011, royalty, FDT and VAT have been transferred to buyers

Expenses of implementing R&R will vary from plan to plan and will be between Rs 5 crore and Rs 20 crore. Besides implementing R&R plan, the court asked category B and C leaseholders to pay penalties: Rs 5 crore for each ha encroached by way of mine pits and Rs 1 crore for each ha encroached for dumping overburden initially. Kamath says it is paltry compared to the 500-600 per cent profit margin in the business (see ‘Economy of mining…’).

The court has asked the monitoring committee to retain 10 per cent of the sales proceeds of old stock of A and B leaseholders and the entire sales proceeds of the old stock of C leaseholders. The sales proceeds, together with the penalties and the amount received through auctioning category C mines, will go to a special purpose vehicle (SPV), called Karnataka Mineral Rich Region Development Corporation (KMRDC). It will implement an environment management plan of Rs 30,000 crore for 30 years for mining-affected zones. The projects include health, education, water supply, employment and biodiversity conservation “for ensuring inclusive growth of the area surrounding the mining leases”. Ironically, the fund will also be spent on setting up facilities like conveyor belts, railway sidings and widening of roads, which can be used for transporting iron ore.

“We have apprehensions about SPV,” says Hiremath. “It seems its special purpose is to take mining forward rather than compensating for the environmental devastation.”

Besides, at a production rate of 25 MTPA, the iron ore deposits of Bellary will be exhausted within 40 to 50 years. The nation will not be able to pass on its rich resources to the next generation. “This is against the principle of intergenerational equity,” says Hiremath. In fact, In 2010, while illegal mining was at its peak, the state government was signing MoUs with steel companies, including Tata Metaliks, Arcelor Mittal India, JSW Steel, Posco India. The industries have promised to invest Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

Sagar Dhara, director of Hyderabad non-profit Cerena Foundation, says ICFRE and CEC should have quantified the environmental damage in monetary terms before recommending resumption of mining. Cerena Foundation did a study in Sandur taluk of Bellary on behalf of the petitioners and estimated a loss of Rs 200 crore a year in agriculture alone. A moratorium on mining should have been declared for a few years till the physical and biological reclamation got completed, he says.

A Bellary without mining

Amlan Aditya Biswas, deputy commissioner of Bellary, says the ban did not affect the district’s economy much. Bellary has been an agrarian economy. At the time of the ban, some 10,300 people were employed in 70 active mines in the district. After companies retrenched workers, local residents who had joined the mining force returned to their traditional livelihoods (see ‘Onion v ore’).

Onion v ore

In Bhujanganagar village in Sandur valley, farmer Bharmappa got a bumper harvest of onion despite this year’s severe drought. “I harvested 44 tonnes of onion from one hectare,” he says, standing tall amid his farm hands.

“When mining was in full swing, yield had gone down to 24 tonnes,” says he. Besides, it was difficult to get farm hands then. The fertile valley is known for its vegetables and onions. But following the mining boom many had leased out their farms for stocking iron ore and for mining.

For the rest, it was difficult to grow crops due to iron dust. Since the ban, residents have returned to growing onions, maize and millets.

The state also did not incur any revenue loss during the ban. “Instead, revenue increased even when production came down,” says H R Srinivas, director of the states mines department in Bengaluru. Before the ban, IBM decided the price of iron ore and it used be around Rs 1,300 a tonne, he says. Since the ban, sale is done through e-auction by the monitoring committee and the rate was fixed by NMDC. “Average price rose to Rs 2,500 a tonne,” explains Srinivasa, who is also the convener of the committee. Transport was the sector severely hit by the ban. Many had bought tipper trucks on credit during the boom to transport ore to ports in other states. “Every tipper truck employed at least three people,” says B Badewali, president of Hospet Truckers Association. With the ban about 3,000 tipper trucks are now lying idle. Repaying has become difficult the owners and banks have started loan recovery procedures.

In the last 20 months, in the absence of reckless mining, forests and streams have started showing healthy signs. “We have spotted a few sloth bears and a rare species of snake that was seen in India only once before,” says S Manikandan, deputy conservator of forests.

Despite the court’s approval, it will not be easy for many companies to resume mining since they are fighting criminal cases in lower courts among themselves. The CBI is also investigating a few cases related to illegal mining. The court has clearly said its judgement will not affect the ongoing investigations. The petitioners also plan to approach the court again to review the judgement. They had asked for legal actions against all those involved in illegal mining, including those named in Laokayukta’s reports, and had prayed for two independent committees, one with powers to prosecute and the other with expertise to monitor R&R plan and SPV. “The judgment has not addressed many of our concerns,” says Kamath.

Goa next

Will the Bellary prescription work for Goa?

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/33(25).jpg” width=”457″ height=”343″ border=”0″ />Sesa Goa’s Bicholim mine (Photo: Sugandh Juneja)

The Codli mines in South Goa resemble large amphitheatres flanked by flights of steps. Till a few months ago, excavators and earthmovers could be seen here tearing into the crust to scoop out red earth that contained high concentrations of iron ore. Tipper trucks would then transport it to Murmugao and Panaji ports from where ships ferried the ore to destinations like China. Today the whir of turning wheels is missing in Codli. The mines, owned by one of the country’s biggest mining firms Sesa Goa, are waiting like 138 others for the Supreme Court order to resume mining.

The ban is not only on mining. Companies cannot even sell their iron ore stocks. “We have three million tonnes of iron ore lying but cannot sell it until the court allows,” says Joseph Coelho, manager of the Codli mines.

goa [4]

Mining activities had come to a halt in Goa much before the Supreme Court ban. The state government dealt the first blow. In September 2012, days after a commission headed by Justice M B Shah submitted its report to Parliament citing illegalities in all mines in Goa, the government temporarily suspended mining activities in the state. That month, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued a direction under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, to suspend environmental clearances of all 139 mines in Goa.

The Supreme Court order came in October 2012, following a petition by Goa Foundation, a non-profit working on ecological issues. It ordered that the mine leases, found violating the norms by the Shah Commission, should be suspended and asked its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to investigate the illegalities.

Timeline

October 6, 2011
Goa’s Public Accounts Committee says almost half of active mines in the state are illegal. Two-thirds of the mines in forest areas do not have clearances and have felled 140,000 trees

August 24, 2012
Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) writes letter to Goa government, saying overburden dump within lease area should be regulated in terms of approved mining plan; those outside need approval from mines ministry or a Central authority

August 31, 2012
Goa government writes letter to IBM, saying removal of ore from overburden dump has been stopped since September 2011

September 7, 2012
M B Shah Commission report, citing illegalities in all mines in Goa, tabled in Parliament. Union mines ministry writes to Goa government, asking it to immediately restrict removal of overburden dumps outside lease area till appropriate mechanism is evolved

September 10, 2012
Goa suspends mining operations in all mine leases

September 14, 2012
Union environment ministry issues notice to cancel environmental clearance of all 139 mine leases in Goa

October 3, 2012
Goa government sets up R M S Khandeparkar Committee to investigate Shah Commission report

October 5, 2012
Supreme Court accepts petition by non-profit Goa Foundation and directs its Central Empowered Committee to look into mining illegalities in Goa

December 7, 2012
Central Empowered Committee submits its interim report

March 11, 2013
Directorate of Mines and Geology and the state government launch a scheme, Mining affected/impacted relief scheme, 2013, to provide financial assistance to people who have been affected by ban

Goa has also set up its own inquiry committee under retired judge R M S Khandeparkar to investigate the Shah Commission report.

Justifying the new committee, Goa’s deputy chief minister Francis Dsouza says, “The question is whether the apex court should have stopped all the mines. Legal mines should not have been shut as the livelihood of a large number of people is at stake.” Goa today finds itself caught between livelihood concerns and sustainable use of resources. With no solution in sight, the state could be handed down a model recently introduced 400 kilometres away in Karnataka.

There is a constant fear that the model pronounced in the Supreme Court judgement for reopening mines in Bellary could be used in Goa.

R K Verma, principal secretary of Goa’s mines department, says Bellary lost two years trying to take a decision on ways to resume mining. A similar term could be disastrous for Goa. Verma offers an alternative way: “We will book all illegal people, but legal operations should be allowed to resume as soon as possible.”

Atul Jhadav, president of Goa Barge Owners’ Association, explains: If the Bellary model is applied to Goa, most mines would fall in category C. The Supreme Court has cancelled leases of category C mines in Bellary because of highest number of illegalities, including dumping of overburden (soil removed to extract the minerals) outside the mine lease areas. Most mines in Goa dump their overburden outside the lease area, Jhadav says.

Besides, mining is the backbone of Goan economy, says Nilesh Cabral, MLA from Curchorem in South Goa.

Dharamaduda village is a few kilometres from Codli mines. About 80 per cent of the 12,000-odd population in this village earned their livelihood from these mines. Apart from direct employment, several residents in Dharamaduda own tipper trucks that ferried iron ore from the mines. Some worked as drivers and helpers in the trucks, while the others opened shops and eateries around the mines. Guru B Gaonkar, sarpanch of Dharamdauda, says a petrol pump set up in the village to fuel trucks used to pay tax to the village panchayat, depending on its business. It hardly contributes now. “We understand that mining creates pollution and traffic problems, but it is a trade off we are ready to accept,” says Gaonkar. He wants mines to be reopened as people from his village are migrating to distant places in search of work.

State government figures show in 2009-10, revenue from mining contributed 13.5 per cent to the state’s GDP. This is on a par with the hotel and the tourism industry. This apart, the industry claims that mining provides direct and indirect employment to nearly 300,000 people, or half of the state’s workforce.

Those who have lost their livelihoods now question why they are being punished when the fault lies elsewhere. “We were never involved in any illegal activity,” says William D’costa of Barge Owners’ Association. Most barges have loans of Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore attached to them. “Without mining we are unable to pay installments to the banks that are now sending us notices,” he adds. The association has written to the Reserve Bank of India and the state government to grant relief in loan repayment.

 

The ban has impacted almost every household in Goa because the breadwinners are associated either with mining or the Murmugao Port Trust, says P M Pandiyan, chairperson of the trust. Since iron ore exports comprised 80 per cent of the port’s operation, commercial activity has come to a standstill. Last year, this profit-making venture accrued a loss of Rs 108 crore. It was its first loss in history. The trust has asked the state to step in, Pandiyan informs.

The stakeholders of Goa’s iron ore mining sector do not want to give up easily. They have united to form the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF).

Christopher Fonseca of GMPF says 30 per cent of the state’s population has been jobless for eight months. “Environment is important but the government should think about our livelihoods too.” The state government has offered a year-long monetary compensation scheme for those who lost their livelihood because of the ban (see ‘Cushion for ban’).

The river linking schemes

In March, Goa’s chief minister announced a year-long relief scheme by passing a notification. Targeted only at a few taluks affected due to ban on mining, the scheme recognises that the ban has resulted in an “economic crisis” for those employed directly. It estimates that 25,000 families have been rendered jobless. Under the scheme, family of a tipper truck owner, engaged in mining, will receive Rs 8,000 per month. For a second truck, the family gets Rs 4,000 per month. The money will be released retrospectively from October 2012, when the ban was imposed, till September 2013. People who have lost mining jobs will be paid Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 a month based on their salary slab. People employed in mining-related activities will receive between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000 a month. They will have to establish that they were engaged in such activities for at least three years as of September 2012. The money will be released retrospectively from January till December 2013. So far, the state government has received 5,000 applications

Subhash Phaldesai, MLA from mining belt of Sanguem, says this is not enough. Claude Alvares, executive director of Goa Foundation, says the government should instead compensate those who have been displaced after their farmlands have been destroyed by pollution from mining. “The mineral does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people of Goa. But our assets are being destroyed, while a handful make merry,” he adds.

Plunder, then ponder

The reason for Alvares’ resentment can be found in the Shah Commission’s report. It points to a number of illegalities, including mining without licence, mining outside lease area, production of ore beyond permitted capacity, and illegal transportation. CEC’s interim report submitted in December 2012 reiterates most of these findings but presses for a detailed survey.

One of the most serious concerns recorded by both the Shah Commission and CEC is a mismatch between production and export figures of iron ore from Goa. Data submitted to CEC by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and exporter’s association shows about 40 million tonnes of iron ore was exported illegally over a five-year period (see ‘Illegality in excess’ on p35). Mining companies say the additional exported ore came from overburden dumps.

Earlier, IBM classified ore with less than 55 per cent iron content as overburden, which does not have much market demand. In 2009, it lowered the threshold value to 45 per cent. Overburden does not meet IBM threshold but it may still contain a significant amount of iron. Royalty need not be paid for overburden if it is not sold, says Mineral Concession Rules of 1960. But if it is sold or exported then a tax has to be paid to the state. A senior official of IBM says before selling this overburden, the state should be informed, which should ideally verify the quality and quantity of iron content and ascertain the royalty to be paid.

Industry insiders say the state mines department usually does not inspect what the industry sells from the overburden. This gives the industry the leeway to export good quality iron ore as overburden and evade royalty. Mining companies in Goa used this leeway to benefit from the soaring demand in the international market that peaked in run up to the Beijing Olympics and continued even after the Games.

A check on illegal shipping of minerals came only in 2010, after the state government made it mandatory for the companies to get a no-objection certificate from the mines department to export iron ore after paying royalty.

Overburden of controversies

Such illegality is at the helm of a recent spat between the state and the Centre over the authority to give permission for export of overburden.

MoEF and the Union Ministry of Mines (MoM) claim it is the Centre’s prerogative to give permission for export of overburden. Responding to one such claim in March 2011, Goa opined that environmental clearance is not required to remove minerals from overburden dumps. But in October 2011, MoM wrote back asking for necessary measures to prevent passing off of illegally extracted ore as overburden.

In July 2012, MoM again wrote to the state government that overburden handling, or removal of ore from overburden, for exports has an environmental impact and hence requires environmental clearance. The Goa government replied that overburden handling was stopped in September 2011.

On the very day Shah Commission’s report was tabled in Parliament, MoM asked the state to ban removal of ore from overburden lying outside the lease area till an appropriate mechanism is evolved. This points to the fact that the authorities, both at the Centre and the state, were aware of these illegalities.

S Sridhar, executive director of Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association, has another concern. IBM does not allow mine lease holders to store overburden in mineralisation zone (areas that contain minerals). Given that mine leases in Goa are right next to each other, the only option is to keep them outside the lease area, he adds.

Most mine owners in Goa started operating during the Portuguese period. Under the Portuguese Colonial Mining law the maximum size of a Goa mine is 100 ha and the mines are contiguous.

IBM officials explain that they discourage dumping on mineralisation zone as it leads to locking up of minerals for future. Verma says dumping outside the lease area requires permission from the revenue department because of changes in land use. “In some cases this permission was obtained, but most ignored this requirement.”

There is no way out for the mine owners in Goa. Ambar Timblo, managing director of Fomento Resources, says the authorities were aware of the problem all along. “We always show our overburden dumps whether inside or outside the mine correctly to MoEF, IBM and the state pollution control board.”

Down To Earth analysed a few environmental clearances granted by MoEF. None of the clearances mentioned whether the overburden should be stored within the mine lease area. All it says is “overburden shall be stacked at earmarked dump site(s) only and shall not be kept active for long periods”.

Whose buffer is it anyway?

The Wildlife Conservation Strategy of January 2002 states that area within 10 km of the boundary of a national park or a sanctuary should be notified as eco-fragile zone. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) asked states to submit their proposals notifying these areas. But in 2005, the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) decided that the eco-sensitive zone should be site-specific, following which MoEF again informed states about the change. In 2006 the Supreme Court ordered that all projects within 10 km of national parks and sanctuaries should go to NBWL for clearance, until the eco-sensitive zones were notified. Supreme Court’s advisory body, Central Empowered Committee, stepped in and classified the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country into six categories based on their area (see table). MoEF disagrees with this classification and has stuck to its original 10 km definition. R K Verma, principal secretary of Goa’s mines department, says, “The buffer zone should be site-specific and wherever possible, should be confined to natural barriers like rivers.”

Even if one goes by Verma’s definition, there is ambiguity over who is the competent authority to approve projects in buffer zones. MoEF in May 2011, wrote to Goa’s Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), clarifying that NBWL is the only authority to approve mining in the buffer zone. Approvals for mining within buffer without placing them before NBWL also violate the 2006 Supreme Court order. But more than 100 iron ore mining leases, including Sesa Goa’s Codli mines, have clearance only from CWW, though they fall in the buffer zone. “Our interpretation of the order in terms of competent authority was CWW. So we approached it for approval. Now with MoEF saying 10 km, this is clearly a grey area. This needs to be resolved urgently so that we know where we stand,” says Ambar Timblo of Fomento Resources.

image

Now the state mining department has asked all mining companies to declare dumps with location, quantity and quality of the stock. “We estimate that there is 700 million tonnes of overburden. The department will now scrutinise these in detail,” says Verma. The Goa government now plans to auctions this overburden. From ecological point of view, overburden dump handling is important in Goa as its mining belt is close to major wildlife areas.

Eco-sensitive enough?

The iron ore-rich eastern Goa is also home to six wildlife sanctuaries and a national park. The CEC report says MoEF has cleared 20 mining leases within the sanctuaries. This contravenes the February 2000 order of the Supreme Court, which prohibits mining leases within national parks and sanctuaries, and applies retrospectively. Violating the December 2006 order of the apex court, MoEF has approved another 23 mines within one kilometre of the sanctuaries. CEC, in its interim report, has recommended quashing all the 43 permissions, identifying those responsible for the approvals and initiating action against them.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/35-1(1).jpg” width=”457″ height=”293″ border=”0″ />All figures are in Million Tonnes (Source: CEC (Interim) Report)It is not just MoEF, the state is also to be blamed for such illegalities. Of the 120 mining leases cleared by MoEF, 112 are located within 10 km of protected wildlife habitats. Many of them have approvals only from Goa’s Chief Wildlife Warden. This is when the apex court in its 2006 order had observed that the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) of MoEF had to peruse and approve all environmental clearances for projects located within 10 km of protected wildlife habitats. There is confusion over the competent authority to clear activities in this zone (see ‘Whose buffer is it anyway?’).

CEC’s interim report states “MoEF by its various actions and inactions de facto ensured mining operations in a large number of leases continue to take place in violation of directions of this Hon’ble Court.” CEC thus recommends that all environmental clearances granted to mines within the 10 km buffer be suspended and scrutinised by NBWL. The court can then decide their fate based on NBWL’s recommendation.

The way ahead

What does Goa have to look forward to given that illegal mining has taken its toll not only on its ecology but also on economy?

Mining in Goa may not start for the next five years, say Alvares. “We have foolishly stuck to our heritage of mining.” He says if Goa ends up like Karnataka, mining should be capped at 10 MTPA. Timblo says it is unlikely that production will start soon and the cap on production will be the new model of mining in Goa. Managing director of Sesa Goa, P K Mukherjee, refuses to comment on this subjudice case but says his only concern is about his employees. Verma hopes that conditions are not too stringent, like in Bellary.

CEC has recommended a model similar to that of Bellary, where an environment impact assessment and reclamation and rehabilitation plan need to be prepared by Indian Council for Forest Research and Education. It has also suggested a block-wise cap for mining.

But is the Bellary formula the right template for the rest of the country? Can it bring order to the iron ore mining industry?

With inputs from Srestha Banerjee

Bellary case file

Will it help sound mining or mining companies?

imageIllustration: Anirban Bora

The Bellary case—and perhaps now the Goa case—is setting a precedent for mining regulations in the country. It will define how the offenders are judged, how serious is their crime and how they should be penalised. In other words, it is developing the mining penal code for the country. It is setting the framework for future environmental management, including the limits on how much mineral extraction is “sustainable”. In addition, the judgements set the framework for how local people will “benefit” from mining. Therefore, in many ways these decisions are overarching and are definitely needed as the current regulatory system has been decimated. The question that needs to be discussed is whether the judgements go far enough in deciding the sustainable framework for mining in the country. Or, indeed, if these are in the right direction.

Mining Penal Code

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has classified mining into three categories—A, B and C—taking encroachment as the basis of the nature of offence committed. To judge the quantum of offence, CEC has taken the ratio of the lease area of each mine to respective encroachment.

Category A: No major encroachment outside the lease area. This does not mean this category is “clean” on other accounts. The mine operations are allowed after the reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan is started.

Category B: Encroachment up to 10 per cent of the mine lease area for mining pit and dumping of waste in area up to 15 per cent of the lease area. They have to complete R&R and pay some fines before resuming operations.

Category C: Encroachment more than 10 per cent of the lease area and dumping of waste in area, which is more than 15 per cent of the lease area. Their lease will be cancelled and then auctioned for captive use.

The bottom line, after all the rigmarole and more than two years of judicial scrutiny, is that all mines, big and small, big offenders or small offenders, will continue in some form or another. The problem with this manner of categorising penalties is threefold. One, that CEC has defined the “nature” of offence in a very limited manner, which does not take into account the environmental fallout or the cumulative impact of the mines in the region. In this way, when mining reopens—first A, then B and then C—it could well be business as usual. The best that is being offered is that there will be an R&R plan, which will take into account “afforestation, check dams, stablisation of waste dumps, soil conservation, rainwater harvesting and use of modern mining technologies”. There is nothing to suggest that these methods will add up to sustainable mining, even if a cap is put on the total mining that will be allowed.

Two, this rulebook could well end up incentivising large mines to commit large offence. The simple fact is that the Bellary formula will work against small mines, as it is based on quantifying the extent of violation as a percentage of the mine lease area. This will end up “legalising” non-compliance of large mines. Mines with large lease areas, for instance of 1,000 hectares, could have encroached 100 ha and still be in legal B category.

Three, the issue of illegal iron ore extraction and sales has been ignored by CEC in defining illegality. In 2012, the Supreme Court directed CEC to assess within three months the actual quantity of illegal iron ore that was sold, so that companies could be fined. But this has not happened. So mines have opened and many more will open soon, and all the talk of recovering ill-gotten funds may well be brushed under the carpet. Small wonder the mining barons are once again in power in Bellary.

C for captive

Allowing C category mines in the future once they are auctioned for captive use presumes illegal mining will thus remain in check. But the fact is captive mines discount natural resource, allow transfer pricing and promote poor mining practices, as is evident from cases across the country. Worse, it will distort the market by creating certain companies who will have access to cheap iron ore through captive mines, while others will have to buy ore from the market at higher costs. It is also clear that companies with cheap raw material are not driven to innovate or to be frugal and efficient in their use.

For instance, the recent rating of Indian steel companies done by Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment found that the three top-rated companies did not have captive mines for iron ore—their cost of raw material was high and they invested in efficiency, which in turn brought down emissions. Companies with captive mines—Tata Steel, Jamshedpur; Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Raigarh; and SAIL, Rourkela—were rated low in environmental performance.

Unscientific cap

The Dehradun-based Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) has recommended in its environmental impact assessment (EIA) done at the behest of the Supreme Court that there should be a “cap” on the quantum of iron ore mined in the Bellary region. The Supreme Court has endorsed the recommended “cap” of 30 million tonnes per annum (MTPA)—25 MTPA in Bellary and 5 MTPA in neighbouring Chitradurga and Tumkur districts. The “cap” is not based on environmental or socio-economic factors. Instead, the ICFRE report mentions that it is suggesting this limit “since the annual iron ore requirement of Karnataka is around 30 MTPA and majority of its demand is met from Bellary”.

This sets a bad precedence for environmental governance and has huge implications for inter-state matters. The limit is unscientific and is not based on cumulative impact assessment, taking into account the carrying capacity of this eco-sensitive forested region. It would also signal that states should “mine” for their own captive consumption—mine and only mine.

SPV for community

The Supreme Court has directed that a special purpose vehicle (SPV)—the Karnataka Mineral Rich Region Development Corporation—be set up under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary. The SPV will collect the fines, penalties, money raised from the auction of C category mines and 10 per cent of the sale price of all iron ore sold from Bellary, and will implement projects for socio-economic development and mining infrastructure. In other words, a parallel government is being proposed to the district administration. It is not clear how this recommendation is in consonance with what is being discussed currently in Parliament. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, presently with Parliament, includes provisions for benefit sharing and local area development. Will the SPV model be in contravention of the Bill or will it set a precedent?

No accountability

There are four key departments that can be held most accountable for the extent of illegal mining in Bellary (and Goa). One, the forest department as it turned a blind eye to the takeover of its land. Two, the state mining department, which gave leases and clearances with total indifference. Three, Nagpur-based Indian Bureau of Mines, which gave permissions to increase mining from 20 MTPA to 80 MTPA without any care or scrutiny for impacts. And four, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which gave environmental and forest clearances to anyone and everyone without any assessment.

The fact is government officers who “connived”, “consented” or simply did nothing to stop the rot have not been held accountable. The worst part is that today these departments—represented in the Supreme Court monitoring committee—have become all-powerful and are back in the business to decide the fate of Bellary without any institutional reform.

The Bellary model does not provide the design of an effective institutional framework for environmentally sound and regulated mining in the country. The model, instead, once again depends on committees of the court to oversee management, which is at best a short-term solution. In this way, the Bellary case does not mean the end of illegal mining or a new dawn for sustainable mining in the country.


 

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way


By MEERA MOHANTY, ET Bureau | 14 May, 2013,

When the Supreme Court reopened the iron-ore mining door some more in Karnataka, miners in Orissa breathed a Rs 50,000 crore sigh of relief.
Three weeks ago, when the Supreme Court reopened the iron-ore mining door some more in Karnataka, miners in Orissa breathed a Rs 50,000 crore sigh of relief. Also in the dock for some offences of a similar nature, Orissa’s iron-ore miners, who produce a third of this mineral that is critical to steel, had been dreading their fate, which lay in the hands of a Central government panel.

The last time the Shah Commission—whose remit is to study violations in iron ore and manganese mining in India and recommend changes— submitted a fact-finding report, made public in September 2012, it led to all iron-ore mining in Goa grind to a halt. So, as it prepared to submit its report on Orissa, by July, there was a gnawing sense of fear among miners, user companies, and government functionaries and politicians at both the Centre and the state levels, that this eastern state could go the Goa way.

For companies with steel units in the neighbourhood, like Tata SteelBSE -2.23 %, Jindal SteelBSE -1.06 % and Power and SAIL, it would mean losing access to their key input. For the Centre, it would mean another blow in its efforts to shore up industrial growth. For Orissa, it would mean the loss of its economic engine.

Most of all, for iron-ore miners, it would mean the loss of a lucrative business stream. Already smarting because of a Rs 65,000 crore recovery claim raised by Orissa, they were bracing for the worst. But now, feels senior advocate Ashok Parija, who is contesting these claims on behalf of some Orissa miners: “Mining will not stop. After this (Karnataka) order, it is clear that most leases here beat the Karnataka test.”

The ‘Karnataka test’ is a 10% straying limit. Cancelling 43% of iron-ore leases in Karnataka, the SC allowed the remaining, which had not strayed beyond 10% of their boundary (15% in certain cases), to reopen. “The nature of violations in Orissa is different in nature,” adds a member who has worked closely with the central empowered committee (CEC), the panel doing the fact-finding for the SC on illegal mining. “Further, unlike Karnataka or Goa, Orissa, for whatever reason, has been doing its bit to correct the situation,” he adds, on the condition of anonymity.

THE STATE CLEANS UP

Since 2010, much before the Shah Commission was set up, the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa has been putting in place checks and balances to detect illegal mining. Even the CEC noted this in its April 2010 report to the SC: it said that “…the state has taken corrective steps, though rather belatedly…”, but also added that “serious shortcomings” still remain. Orissa asked miners without valid clearances to stop mining. It initiated inquiries against companies allegedly doing illegal mining and suspended several state government officials. “Since 2009, we have suspended nearly 200 mines working on a ‘deemed extension’ (a much abused contingency provision for renewals) without statutory clearances,” says Deepak Mohanty, director of mines, Orissa.

The state government, further, made public data on leases, permits and status. It made registration compulsory for traders and truckers, removed stockyards outside a 40 km radius of a mine, issued e-permits that enabled real-time tracking of all consignments and asked the railways to check permits before allowing rakes to be loaded. “That is one kind of theft that would go completely unaccounted: trucks that loaded 20 tonnes, declaring half as much, and bribing their way through weigh bridges manned by class four employees,” says Rabi Das, whose petition in the Supreme Court brought the CEC to Orissa.

According to Das, the state had not turned a new leaf; its hand was forced when the case— now famously known as the ‘RBT case’ (after Ram Bahadur Thakur, the lease owner)—of two people claiming rights to mine a piece of land neither had the approval for rocked the state assembly. Since both the accused were reportedly associated with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the state had to initiate an inquiry. “If this (the RBT case) hadn’t blown up, it would have been difficult to take action,” says a former state mining official, on the condition of anonymity.

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way

While those corrective measures may yet avert a shutdown, three other subsequent steps taken by Orissa—many say to save its face with the Shah Commission—has caused recrimination among miners, hurled the state into a legal standoff with the Centre and cast shadows of uncertainty in iron-ore mining in Orissa. And untangling all this will be a long, legal battle.

…AND CRACKS DOWN

In October 2012, in the backdrop of a shutdown in Goa mining and the Supreme Court meaning business in Karnataka, Orissa stunned everyone with three big decisions. One, it asked 204 mines in the state to pay fines amounting to Rs 65,000 crore for extracting more iron ore than they had permission for in the last 10 years. Two, the state barred the private sector from all new mineral leases, reserving everything for its own Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), which too had been fined Rs 8,700 crore. Three, it made it conditional on miners whose licences were awaiting renewals to supply 50% of their iron ore to steel units in the state and only then sell outside; it also declared that such leases on second or subsequent renewal can only retain reserves for 30 years of captive use.

According to a director of a large merchant miner that has challenged the fines and the captive clause, the policy moves don’t hold. “On the one hand, you practically restrict all production. On the other, you insist material should not leave the state, which firstly isn’t constitutional. Is the state ready for a hundred steel plants?” he says, not wanting to be named.

On the face of it, the battle lines seem to be drawn around the Rs 65,000 crore fine. On one side is the Orissa government. On the other side are the miners, who feel the basis and quantum of the fine are misplaced, and the Centre, which feels the Naveen Patnaikgovernment is overstepping its jurisdiction.

According to Orissa miners, some of the richest in India, unlike the worst of Karnataka mining offenders, they were not stealing from land they didn’t have permission to mine on. Further, they add, what the state is terming over-production is actually allowed under the rules. The Centre supports them on this, citing the 20% mark-up over the mining plan approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) that is permissible. Says Mohanty: “It (the Centre) said that, in 71 of the 104 cases, where there was a slight increase beyond the IBMlimits, subsequent mining schemes in each and every case had been approved, and thus the excess regularised.”

Parija adds this would hold even on the ’10% Karnataka rule’. “Goa or Karnataka mines are 5-10 hectare mines, Orissa’s are 25-1,000 hectares,” he says. “A 10% deviation will be huge, and that couldn’t have happened because most of these leases are adjacent.”

The Centre also argues that the clause under which Orissa has claimed the fines—Section 21(5) of the Mines and Mineral (Regulation and Development) (MMDR) Act 1957—applies to production outside a mine owner’s area, not excess production within. It has advised Orissa not to colelct the fines while 20 miners await the order of a Central tribunal on the matter.

Any resolution on the matter will take time. “We have only issued show cause notices. Hearings have to be completed so that the amount is reconciled. Only then can a formal notice be issued,” says Mohanty. The tribunal too is likely to wait for a formal notice, says a senior official in the Central ministry.

This is creating a piquant solution for miners as the state is also reviewing their applications for renewals. Mohanty says 337 mines are on ‘deemed extensions’; further, of these, only 58 have all statutory clearances. The state has said that, in deciding on each renewal, it will consider the past history of the occupant, including alleged irregularities committed by it.​

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way

HOW IT UNRAVELLED

Watching all this from the sidelines is the Shah Commission, led by MB Shah, the retired Supreme Court judge. His second-in-command is UV Singh, the pugnacious forest officer of Karnataka whose defiant documentation of the mining operations of the Reddy brothers formed the basis of the state Lokayukta’s report.

The Commission’s term ends on July 16, and the Orissa report, for which it ended its public meetings on April 21, will be its last for now. Such is its perceived influence and importance that one view is that Orissa acted against the miners so that the Shah Commission might cut it some slack, and events might not spiral out of its control, as they did in Goa.

In October 2012, Goa went into a tailspin after the Shah Commission report, which said that Rs 35,000 crore of illegal mining had happened in the state, was tabled in Parliament. This was the trigger for a public interest litigation (PIL) to be filed by an NGO called Goa Foundation in the SC, which banned all iron-ore mining in Goa.

Rajesh Verma, Orissa steel and mines secretary, asserts the state’s actions were proactive, and not reactive. He points out the notification for the Shah Commission came on November 22, 2010, while Orissa issued the order for its inquiry on August 25. The terms of the Orissa probe was to inspect how much each mine in five minerals— iron ore, chrome, manganese, bauxite and limestone—was producing vis-a-vis its approved limits. “We issued notices in September 2011, well before the Shah Commission’s first visit to the state in November 2011,” he adds.

“This is all a show for (Justice) Shah and the upcoming elections,” alleges Niranjan Patnaik, state Congress leader. “What about the pits in huge tracts of unleased area, relinquished area and OMC’s own mines? Has the Shah Commission seen these tracts, where the mafia ran riot with government patronage?” The state’s complicity is why, alleges Niranjan Patnaik, even as Karnataka and Goa agreed to an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI), Orissa didn’t. “A CBI enquiry can well start with my mining baron cousins, but it must.”

CENTRE-STATE CONFLICTOrissa, on its part, has been arguing with the Centre for some time to reduce profits in the hands of miners—and increasing revenues in the hands of the state. At present, states earn a royalty, of 10% of the average sale price per tonne, on the iron ore sold.The Centre fixes this royalty rate. Although this rate is revised every three years, the 10% rate has been in place since 2009. Before that, it was a flat Rs 12-27 per tonne, which meant miners pocketed every bit of gains from a price increase. With China on a building boom, iron ore prices shot up four-fold between 2001 and 2011.

Orissa began asking the Centre to levy a windfall tax. On September 3, 2011, chief minister Patnaik wrote to the prime minister that, “I am concerned about the huge profits accruing to merchant mining companies, a large number of which are in private hands.”

Patnaik cited the phenomenal increase in NMDC’s net profit—from Rs 1,245 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 18,815 crore in 2010-11. Dinsha Patel, the minister of mines at the Centre, replied to Patnaik that Orissa’s coffers also rose proportionately: the state earned Rs 1,852 crore in iron-ore royalties in 2010-11, despite a fall in production, against Rs 668 crore collected the previous year.

A former mines ministry official, on the condition of anonymity, admits the Centre profited more than the state during the boom. “The Centre increased export duty (collected by the Centre) from 5% to 20% in February 2011 and to 30% in December 2011,” he says. “Orissa’s demand is fair enough. Royalty earnings also surged, but not to the extent exports did.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

All eyes are now on the Shah Commission, which had made three trips to Orissa. A battery of highprofile lawyers—including Ram Jethmalani representing Thriveni Earthmovers, andGopal Subramaniam representing seven companies, including Tata Steel and Indrani Patnaik—made a submission to it to hear their clients out individually, something that was not done in Goa.

Between February and April, miners defended their case to Justice Shah in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where he is based. They have also been offering olive branches. During the commission’s hearings in Orissa, a group of miners offered to create a trust of Rs 100 crore for developmental work in the state.

Although miners are still going about operations and production hasn’t suffered, a period of trials and tribulations lies ahead for them. For example, the ‘RBT case’ accused, who were found guilty of illegal mining by Orissa, won relief from the Centre, and their cases are presently in the Orissa High Court. The state’s decision to insist on captive mining has also ended up in courts.

 

#India -Policeman arrested for allegedly molesting woman in Goa town #WTFnews #Vaw


Jan 22, 2013   Panaji, Goa

Rape, maps4aid

Action Taken: Superintendent of Police (North) Vishram Borkar said the constable had been arrested and placed under suspension.
Description:

A policeman was arrested for allegedly molesting a woman on the pretext of conducting an investigation at her residence in Mapusa town near Panaji, police said on Tuesday. Constable Prashant Dawaskar, 30, was arrested on Monday after a woman lodged a complaint with Mapusa police that he, along with four other civilians, ransacked her flat and molested her, while trying to conduct a probe on a complaint against her husband, police said.
The woman and her six-year-old daughter were at home when the alleged offence took place, while her husband was out on his duty. The woman mentioned in her complaint that Dawaskar entered her house on Sunday at around midnight without a woman police constable and body searched her, amounting to molestation.
Superintendent of Police (North) Vishram Borkar said the constable had been arrested and placed under suspension. There was no formal complaint against the woman and the constable acted on his own, Borkar said. The woman alleged that all the persons entered the house forcibly claiming that her husband owed them money.

 

#Goarapecase – Special investigation team to probe #Vaw


Edited by Pritika Ghura | Updated: January 16, 2013 11:14 IST

The police have released a sketch of the accused. The accused is suspected to be 21-23 years old, thin to medium built and has henna coloured hair with a ponytail. The police have also announced a reward of Rs. 50,000 for any information that would lead to his arrest.

The Crime Branch has also registered an offence against an unknown person under Section 378 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 8 of Goa Children Act for raping a minor girl
The victim has been sent to the Goa Medical College and Hospital at Bambolim for medical examination and her report would throw more light on the case.

Taking strong note of the incident, the Chief Minister had directed the Director General of Police to hand over the case to the Crime Branch for further investigation.

Thousands of agitated people, including parents, protested against the rape in the school premises and demanded immediate arrest of the school headmistress, and the culprit who committed the rape.

The Chief Minister, along with top administration and police officials, had to rush to the school after irate residents and friends of the victim’s parents laid siege and did not allow the staff to step out.

According to the information available, the victim, who is a class II student of the high school, was allegedly raped by a stranger who entered the school premises during the interval session at around 10.30 am.

The incident came to light after the victim complained to her class teacher about pain.

The headmistress, taking immediate note of the incident, intimated the victim’s parents. As the parents could not be present in the school in time, the incident was later brought to the notice of the Mormugao police at around 2.30 pm.

The delay in intimating the police created panic among the agitated people, who had started gathering in the school premises.

Despite the incident occurring at around 10.30 am, the victim was made to sit in the office room of the school for about eight hours and only then was she sent to the GMC for medical examination. This further angered the crowd and parents who had gathered in the school.

(With PTI inputs)

 

#India -7-year-old school girl raped in a toilet in Goa , headmistress detained for negligence


PTI  PANAJI, JANUARY 15, 2013 | UPDATED 10:44 IST

Representational graphic
Police said that they had still not been able to nab the accused.

A seven-year-old girl wasraped at her school in the port town of Vasco, resulting in huge protests here on Monday night.

Police have detained the headmistress of the school on charges of negligence.

The second grade student was sexually abused in the school toilet next to the office of the headmistress during recess on Monday, by an unidentified person, police saidon Tuesday.

The incident came to light after the minor complained of pain and was referred for medical examination.

Several parents and locals protested outside the school on Monday night questioning the negligence on the part of the school management. As the situation turned tense, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar visited the spot late last night assuring stern action against the accused.

“We will not spare the accused and anyone involved in this crime,” Parrikar said, following which police detained the headmistress.

Police said the culprit is yet to be arrested. A sketch has been prepared based on the description provided by the victim, they said.

Incidentally, the school has been one of the well guarded institute with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel posted at the gate.

Goa Crime Branch to probe seven-year-old’s rape

The Crime Branch has been directed to probe the rape of a seven-year-old girl in the school premises in Vasco, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Tuesday.

While the rapist is still at large, Crime Branch officials have arrested the headmistress of the school for inordinately delaying the registration of a first information report (FIR).

“The Crime Branch will probe the complaint of rape and negligence by the headmistress separately,” the chief minister said.

The chief minister, along with top administration and police officials, had to rush to the school Monday night after irate residents and friends of the victim’s parents laid siege and did not allow the staff to step out.

According to the police, the girl was found Monday in a state of shock in the school toilet, after being raped by an unknown person who had slipped into the school premises in Vasco, 40 km from here.

The education ministry, which is headed by Parrikar, has ordered the school shut for two days in view of public ire.

With IANS inputs.

 

 

#India-Mining Ministry’s Zero Loss Theory


In an elaborate cover-up, the Ministry of Mines is working behind the scene to save politicians and industrialists involved in illegal mining in Odisha
Prakhar Jain

January 10, 2013, Issue 3 Volume 10

Photo: Getty Images

HOW DO you defeat attempts to punish corruption? For the Union Ministry of Mines the answer is simple: set up a commission and then sabotage it.

TEHELKA has documents to prove that top officials in the mining ministry, which set up one such commission to investigate illegal mining, are working behind the scenes to dilute cases against politicians, industrialists and bureaucrats who are likely to be indicted in the commission’s report.

The matter pertains to the excessive mining of iron ore in Odisha, which the state government has already acknowledged as being illegal in several ways. However, the mining ministry has been trying its best to make the unlawful lawful by converting cases of illegality into irregularity.

The attempts at cover-up have speeded up as the former Supreme Court judge Justice MB Shah, tasked with probing illegal iron ore and manganese mining across the country in 2010, is expected to submit a voluminous report by the end of January.

Documents in possession of TEHELKA show that none other than the then mining secretary, Vishwapati Trivedi, was involved in the cover-up of the scam which, going by even the conservative estimates of Odisha government, caused a loss of 70,000 crore worth of natural resources. Calculated by market rates, the scam might rise to a staggering 3 lakh crores.

Seeds of the scam were sown in the beginning of the last decade when China started importing iron ore in huge quantities to build necessary infrastructure for the Beijing Olympics. As prices of iron ore skyrocketed, mining companies across the nation scrambled to exploit the opportunity.

According to the mining laws, no mineral can be extracted from ground without the prior permission of government. However, taking advantage of a loophole, mining companies in Odisha manipulated the law in connivance with bureaucrats and politicians, and started exporting an unprecedented quantity of iron ore. The companies include those associated with the Tata and the Birla groups.

The scam came to light after the 2009 state Assembly elections, when Rabi Das, the editor of a local Odia newspaper, started investigating into the campaign expenditure of two major political parties following the poll. The money was traced back to illegal mining. This prompted Das to file a case in the Supreme Court, forcing the state government to stop all major mining activities in the state.

When similar such cases were reported from Bellary and Goa, the Union mining ministry asked Justice MB Shah to inquire into the illegal mining of iron ore and manganese across the nation. In the following months, the ministry initiated the coverup by going to the extraordinary length of amending the rules and interpreting the laws to benefit the case of the criminals.

The ministry even sabotaged the Odisha government’s attempt to recover the price of ore mined illegally. Three days after the state decided the modalities of computing the penalty last July, the ministry changed the definition of illegal mining by issuing a notification and amending a rule through which a mine is allocated.

The notification read, “…violation of any rules… within the mining lease area by a holder of mining lease shall not include illegal mining.” It also selectively interpreted what would constitute “an area held with lawful authority” and says that a mining lease area shall be considered as an area held with lawful authority while determining the extent of illegal mining.

In addition to the notification, to leave no doubt about the ministry’s intention, a letter was written two months later by Trivedi to the chief secretary of Odisha. The letter stated, “…the interpretation that a land granted under a mining lease by the state government can be held to be occupied without lawful authority on the grounds of violation of provisions of any other law of the land is not appropriate and such interpretation may not stand in the Court of law.”

The letter went on to suggest that if other laws like the Environment (Protection) Act and the Forest (Conservation) Act have been violated by the miners, penalty can be imposed under those Acts and not under the law governing mining in the country. This distinction, Trivedi wrote, may also be clarified to the State Accountant General.

Since most of the illegal excessive mining in the state happened in lease areas (mostly under the grossly misused provision of ‘deemed extension’ when the process of renewal of mining leases is pending) the notification and the letter dealt a huge blow to Odisha. Under the mining laws penalty can be recovered only when mining is done illegally and without the authority of law. The ministry, therefore, killed all chances of recovering the loss caused due to illegal excessive mining of a major mineral.

However, under huge political pressure, the state government went ahead with issuing show-cause notices to the miners in October last year for recovering almost Rs 70,000 crore for “illegal” production of iron ore “without the authority of the law”.This was despite the state government knowing that it would hardly be able to recover a single penny if the show-cause notice were challenged in a court of law.

Covering the tracks Those involved in illegal mining in the state include companies associated with the Tatas and the Birlas, Photo: AP

The companies, as expected, have challenged the notice before a revision authority working under the ministry of mines. Some industrialists have also approached the courts disputing the order, saying that the extra ore mined by them can at best be called an irregularity and not illegality.

Trivedi, however, defends the notification and his letter to the chief secretary. He says that the notification was issued in consultation with the law ministry, after the interim report of MB Shah Commission recommended that the laws against illegal mining be made stronger. “The miners in Odisha had a valid lease and therefore were not holding the area without lawful authority. Those proved to be mining beyond the lease area, which is illegal, will not be able to get mining lease in future because of the notification,” he says.

He further argues that the miners cannot be penalised under the mining laws for not having clearance under the environment and the forest laws. “And there is no limit to the ways in which a law can be interpreted. If someone disagrees with the ministry’s interpretation, then it would be best to let the courts decide,” he says.

Activists in the state blame the politicians for this cover-up. “A large number of senior politicians from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Opposition, the Congress party, are deeply entrenched in the mining business. If the fine is recovered, they would get devastated,” says Rabi Das.

Biswajit Mohanty, a member of Transparency International, an international civil-society organisation, has filed a public interest litigation challenging the ministry’s notification. He describes it as “colourable exercise of rule-making power, which suffers from the vice of arbitrariness”.

Niranjan Patnaik, the state Congress president, who has indirect interest in the business through his relatives, also slams the fine and says that mine owners have only mined more ore from their leased areas and alleges that nobody is touching the illegal extraction by mafia/mafias who were working under the patronage of BJD leaders. “In comparison to what the mine owners have done, these mafias have extracted and sold 100 times more iron ore. Even the Shah Commission has not gone beyond the leased areas to investigate the real theft of minerals,” he says.

It would be interesting to see whether the Shah Commission is able to catch the real culprits behind the mining scam or gets hoodwinked by the systematic efforts of the bureaucracy to project that there is not scam at all.

prakhar@tehelka.com

 

Bharat Mukti Morcha condemns linking of Aadhaar Cards to cooking gas cylinder subsidies #UID


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 Goa , Friday, 4 January 2013,

Bharat Mukti Mocha Goa Unit today January 4, 2013 triggered off meeting of customers of HP Gas supply agent in Siolim, Bardez, Goa M/s Veeresh Gas service with company’s customer service cell based in Kundaim Industrial Estate. The company was represented by its office Mr.Arvind Singh. The delegation of customers included Sandhya Gawde, Florence D’Souza, Sarpanch of Siolim-Marna Panchayat Anita Chari, Diego Rodrigues, Lawrence Braganza of Consumer cell, and Sebastian Rodrigues of Bharat Mukti Morcha. Veeresh Gas service was represented by Mr.Dangui jr.
It was disclosed that the subsidized rates for the cylinder is Rs.418/- and non-subsidized rate is Rs.911/-. During the meeting it was revealed that home cylinders cannot be taken from the storeroom the practice that is being followed by the Siolim HP agent. Cooking cylinders are to be booked by the customers prior to the delivery.
Agent is to provide home delivery of the cylinders, the service that was stopped by the agent in unilateral decision. The weekly schedule of the delivery is to be given to the villagers of Siolim, Marna, Oxel, Sodiem, Assagao, Badem, Chapora and Camurlim areas.
Siolim agent was instructed to issue proper computerized receipts instead of current practice of issuing ad hoc hand written receipts.
The problem of underweight of gas cylinders was discussed and the Siolim dealer is instructed carry weighing scale in the delivery van whiled cylinders are delivered in the villages. In case of underweight cylinders customers can take recourse to complaint book at the showroom and register their complaints. The inspection of complaint book revealed that since March 2011 not a single complaint is registered on the complaint book. Lack of organized movement of consumers has led to the inefficient and even often arrogant behavior of the Siolim dealer.
Mr. Singh instructed the dealer to create awareness about gas delivery and other issue amongst the public in Siolim.
New connections which were blocked are directed to the released as per the instructions of the petroleum ministry that were communicated by Mr. Singh at the meeting.
It was also revealed by Mr.Singh that subsidy will be given on the production of Aadhaar card from the month of February onwards. This decision of the Ministry is highly condemnable. Aadhaar cards are violation of every individual’s privacy through figure prints, iris scans, bank account, pan card, and are done only to promote surveillance as ruling bamons in the country and Goa state are scared of ongoing freedom struggle of mulnivasis against Brahmin tyranny who are Eurasians and miniscule minority of 3.5% of India’s population but having share of 79% in governance Bureaucracy, Judiciary, Executive, Press . Democracy has been subverted into brahmanocracy. This is the reason as to subsidies are linked to Aadhaar card. There is no restriction of sharing of the data under Aadhaar Card which is the case for the data gathered under census Act. There is every possibility that this data will shared with the vested interests in various parts of the country and we will be enslaved. All the major political parties Congress, BJP, Communists – CPI, CPI (M), are controlled by Bamons and that’s the reason they are deliberately silent on this dangerous conspiracy against the mulnivasi people. Bharat Mukti Morcha condemns linking of subsidies to the Aadhaar Card. This is nothing short of blackmailing of mulnivasis people of India. If not, then why there are no entitlements on this card? Linking subsidies to Aadhaar Cards is only a matter bait to get crucial private data of the mulnivasis people so that they can be controlled on the computer screen of Silas super computer.
First of all it is a conspiracy of bamons ruling this country to withraw subsidies under the influence and dictates of satanic international powers of darkness.
It was decided to carry on the awareness program in collaboration with various public bodies. Long battle here seems to be a necessity.

 

Rape of foreigners in Goa has left a permanent scar #Vaw


TNN | Dec 28, 2012, 02.25 AM IST

Rape of foreigners in Goa has left a permanent scar
PANAJI: If Indian women have a hard time bringing to justice their violators, it’s worse for foreign victims of rape. The track record of solving cases of sexual assaults in Goa and bringing the perpetrators to book has been poor if anything to go by the results of investigations involving foreign victims.After much public outcry over four incidents of sexual assaults against foreigners in the last four years, the courts have acquitted the accused in three cases, while the trial of British teenager Scarlett Keeling, who was found dead in 2008 on Anjuna beach, is pending before the court.While exonerating the suspects in the three cases, the courts have castigated the police for lapses in investigation in two separate cases of rape of a Russian woman and a minor. The prosecution‘s charges in rape cases against a few of the politically-linked accused ended in a fiasco partly due to the victim’s fault and also due to the failure of the police to make the cases watertight.In the case of the rape of a 14-year-old German in 2009, the victim and her mother refused to depose in the trial against the former education minister’s son Rohit Monserrate leading to his acquittal.

In another case the same year, local politician John Fernandes got the benefit of doubt as the 26-year-old Russian complainant failed to bring out the true facts of the case before the court. The additional sessions court observed that there were several lapses in investigation and these lapses could have been covered by the prosecution by establishing the case beyond doubt.

In yet another case, a juvenile charged with raping a nine-year-old Russian on Arambol beach in January 2010, was exonerated by the children’s court due to inconsistencies in the testimony of witnesses. The court noted that the identification parade involving the accused was not conducted as per the guidelines. The court stated that the prosecution should have examined the artist, who had drawn the portrait of the suspect after he fled. “Suppression of this material fact from the court should lead to adverse inference,” the court observed.

The case of Scarlett Keeling is the only one that continues in court. In October 2009, CBI had filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case in the children’s court. In March 2010, the court framed charges against Samson D’Souza for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sexual abuse of the victim, while another accused, Placido Carvalho, faces prosecution for abetment of the offences.

While the prosecution has examined some witnesses, the state children’s court in October, 2012, allowed an application filed by CBI seeking the examination of a British witness, Michael Mannion alias Masala (popularly known as Mike Masala), through video-conferencing. The case is likely to come up for hearing next month.