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