The Supreme Court of India has cancelled 88 mining leases in Goa that were renewed by the state government in 2015 just before the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act mandated the auction of mining leases. Cancelling the leases that were renewed for 20 years from 2007, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the Goa government will examine the applications for mining leases afresh in accordance with the law.
Observing that the renewal of a mining lease was hasty and illegal, the court said that all mining activity, involving iron and manganese mines, in Goa would come to halt by 15 March. The top court judgment cancelling the mining leases has come on a petition by NGO Goa Foundation which had challenged the renewal of mining leases by the state government.
The apex court directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them.It said the state government was obliged to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with the law in view of its previous judgment, and not second renewals to mining lease holders.
The bench said mining lease holders, who have been granted a second renewal in violation of its previous decision and directions, are granted time to manage their affairs and may continue mining operations till 15 March this year.
“The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa was unduly hasty, without taking all relevant material into consideration and ignoring available relevant material and therefore not in the interests of mineral development,” it added. The top court also directed the setting up of an SIT to recover the amount from mining companies,, which were allowed to extract ore in violation of the law.