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SC Cancels 88 Iron Ore Mining Leases in Goa, Orders Fresh Auction of Licences

The operative part of the order, read out by the judge in open court, said that the state government renewed mining leases of the companies in violation of the law and the apex court's earlier order.

Utkarsh Anand | News18.com

Updated:February 7, 2018, 11:37 AM IST
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SC Cancels 88 Iron Ore Mining Leases in Goa, Orders Fresh Auction of Licences
Representative image (Reuters)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled 88 mining leases in Goa over violation of norms. The BJP government in the coastal state had renewed the licences in 2015, days before a new Mining Act was to come into force.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur quashed the licences to mines and ordered the setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) to inquire into the matter and recover the penalty from the lease-holders on account of illegal mining of iron ores.

The SIT will comprise chartered accountants as well for the purpose of ascertaining the amount of penalty to be recovered.

The bench directed mining companies to wind up their operations by March 16 and asked the government to initiate bidding process for granting fresh mining lease to companies.

The operative part of the order, read out by the judge in open court, said that the state government renewed mining leases of the companies in violation of the law and the apex court's earlier order.

It said that the fresh licences will have to be now granted by the authorities through an auction process, as stipulated under the new law.

The BJP government had in 2015 renewed for the second time licences of these mining companies for 20 years with retrospective effect from 2007.

The PIL by Goa Foundation, argued by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had questioned the manner in which the licences were hastily renewed merely a few days before the new mining policy made auction mandatory. It also alleged that all of these 88 leaseholders were involved in illegal mining.

By a separate judgment in August last year, this bench had directed that mining companies and leaseholders who have engaged in mining activities without forest or environmental clearance will have to pay the public exchequer compensation equivalent to 100% value of the minerals they extracted illegally.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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