A Supreme Court-appointed panel Friday recommended 42 mining leases granted within wildlife sanctuaries or located within one km of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries in Goa be revoked and clearances of others be reconsidered.
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) also recommended that 120 mining leases granted within 10 kms of national parks and sanctuaries and cleared by the central environment and forest ministry be sent to the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for its consideration. This would also include other similarly located mines.
Besides, the CEC has recommended that the additional principal chief conservator of forests (southern region) inquire whether mining operations would not have adverse impact on the flora, fauna or wildlife habitat, distances of the national parks/sanctuaries from the mining leases and whether the status of the forest areas have been correctly stated in the applications for environmental clearances.
"The court may consider taking a decision regarding validity of such environmental clearances after considering the recommendations of the standing committee of the NBWL, the report of the additional principal chief conservator of forests and other information/details. Till then such environmental clearances may be directed to be held in abeyance," the CEC said.
The CEC also told the apex court forest bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar that it would later file its recommendations on the punitive action against the erring officials, other public functionaries and others and the compensation payable by the defaulting lease holders and others.
Besides this, CEC would make recommendations for the cancellation of the mining leases which are found to be involved in substantial illegal mining and other serious illegalities and other issues which have not been adequately dealt in its report.
Of the 16 recommendation, the CEC has urged the court ask the Dehradun-based Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) to carry out macro-level EIA studies about the impact of mining in Goa and suggest Taluka-wise ceiling on production from all the mining leases.
The mining operation, the CEC said, could be allowed by the mining leases holders not involved in any illegalities only after the ICFRE's study which would involve ceiling on permissible annual production, survey, demarcation of the mining leases and the putting in place the plan for the reclamation and rehabilitation of devastated mines.
The resumption of mining operations by the mining leases holders involved in illegalities and working beyond the sanctioned mining lease boundaries may not be permitted till a decision regarding compensation payable by them was taken and compiled with, it said.
The court will take up for hearing the CEC report when it meets after the winter break in January.