The union environment ministry Wednesday suspended the clearance of 93 mines in Goa on account of companies flouting forest laws.
"The ministry has suspended clearance of all 93 mines and the companies will have to submit all required documents for getting environment clearance afresh," union Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters here.
The suspension would be with immediate effect and the orders would "follow later", she added.
Natarajan said that all the mining operators in Goa would have to convince her ministry that they were conducting their affairs legally.
She called Monday's orders of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, which suspended all mining operations but allowed export of the already extracted ore, "a blatant lie to the people of Goa".
"If it is ore from illegal mining then it should be confiscated immediately. Why is it being allowed to be traded? The money from illegally mined ore should go back to the people of Goa," the environment minister said.
She also said that her ministry has already shut eight illegal mines in the state and issued show-cause notices to owners of 50 mining dumps for extracting ore from them, in violation of the existing laws.
The suspension of environment clearance comes after the Justice M.B. Shah Commission report, which was tabled in parliament Friday, said that Goa's iron ore mining scam was worth nearly Rs.35,000 crore.
Justice Shah in his report also indicted the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF), state directorate of mines, the state forest department and the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for illegal mining.
The report says illegal mining was spread over 500 hectares of area, several hundred acres of which was forest and government-owned land.
The voluminous report holds the state government and central government agencies party to the scam, along with the powerful mining operators here, who, according to Justice Shah, plundered natural resources and facilitated an "unrestricted, unchecked and unregulated export of iron ore to China", which made the exporters of ore "richer and richer".
The report says that forest laws were completely flouted by the mining companies and even mines which were illegally functioning in forest areas were not stopped by government authorities.
"All mining activities should be stopped with immediate effect, including transportation for all mining leases where there is no approval or clearance of the Standing Committee of NBWL (National Board of Wild Life) and are falling within 10 km of eco-sensitive buffer zone," Shah has recommended.