Goa must clean up mining practices or lose heritage destination

A UK Labour MP has moved an “early day motion” in the House of Commons seeking a debate on the damage caused to the environment by mining in the Indian state of Goa, calling upon the British government to urge local authorities to address the issue as a matter of urgency.

The motion, moved by John McDonnell (MP from Hayes and Harlington), has so far been supported by eight other MPs, including Labour MPs from Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma, reports The Times of India.

Goa, India's richest state, is accused of not tamping down hard enough on illegal mining. Failure to act could jeopardize Goa’s hopes of being listed in the world heritage site of UNESCO, said Alina Saldanha, state Environment and Forest Minister, earlier this month.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) asked the state government Wednesday to order a halt to dump mining in Goa. The MoEF calls it illegal, as it is beyond the scope of the Environment Clearance (EC) issued by the ministry, writes The Times of India.

In response, and in what was considered a sharp turn-around, the local government said there is no illegal mining, but admitted the existence of some "illegal extraction and export of ore.”

"Mines operating in Goa are working legally, but there are irregularities on those leases. The mining leases are legal but at times the extraction of ore is done illegally beyond permissible limits," Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the legislative assembly.

According to the minister, there is an important difference between illegal mining and illegal exports, which is what is “really happening” in Goa.

Parrikar and other senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had accused several people, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat, of covering Goa's illegal mining mafia.

And in his March 26 budget speech in the state assembly, Parrikar also said that incessant operations of illegal mining in Goa were having tremendous negative impact on the environment and locals’ health, reports Two Circles.

Analyst are watching closely at the draft mining policy, coming up in August, which could help Goa stop illegal mining activities or sink the state even more.