Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 11 November
The Supreme Court today allowed e-auctioning of nearly 11.48 million tonnes of extracted iron ore lying unused in Goa for over a year after it halted mining operations in 90 mines there.
The e-auctioning would be conducted under the supervision of a three-member committee which will have former bureaucrats U B Singh and S Naiumuddin as members. The third member will be an officer not below the rank of a joint secretary.
The apex court, which on 5 October, last year had stopped mining, transportation and export of iron ore in Goa following a report of irregualrities by the Justice M B Shah Commission, also ordered setting up of another six-member panel which would file its report by 15 February, 2014, suggesting the annual cap on volume of iron ore to be extracted. “The state government is allowed to do the e-auctioning,” a three-judge forest bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik said, adding that the amount collected be kept as “fixed deposits till this court decides the matter.”
Reading from its draft order, the bench, also comprising justices S S Nijjar and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, stated that the six- member panel will have one representative each from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Department of Mining besides “an ecologoist, a geologist, a mineralogist and an expert on forest.”
Asking the Centre and others to come up with the names of experts on 18 November, it said, “The committee of experts shall give the report as to what should be the ceiling on mining.” The six-member panel would look into the issues of fixing the annual cap on iron ore mining by keeping in view the principle of inter-generational equity and the environment- carrying capacity, it said.
The issue of environment-carrying capacity relates to what extent the environment and surroundings of a mine can sustain or bear ore extraction activities.