Mining in the western Indian state of Goa has restarted after a ban was lifted by the government. The tussle between the mining lobbies and environmental groups has also resumed. Murali Krishnan reports.
The western India state of Goa is famous for its stunning beaches. It is also India’s third-largest iron ore producer. Mining plays a vital role in contributing to the state’s economy. In fact, it is as important to Goa as its tourism industry. But years of unbridled development have led to massive land grabbing by the real estate lobbies and illegal miners.
Until the 2000s, Goa’s mining industry had been controlled by a few families. After that, the infrastructure boom in China triggered an unprecedented mining in the state. The mining mafia, in collusion with political groups, committed large-scale environmental and legal violations. The environmentalists estimate that the loss to the public exchequer owing to illegal mining amounted to a staggering 4.6 billion euros.
The devastation wrought by illegal mining has been documented in a recently released book, “Eat and Dust: Mining and Greed in Goa” by Hartman De Souza.
“My book is about a personal anguish at the devastation of the state’s forests and springs,” De Souza told DW. It was only after the public protests and the subsequent setting up of a judicial commission that the government suspended all mining in Goa in September 2012.
But now the mining has been reopened in the state, aiming to increase exports amid a slump in raw materials. “It is going to take some time before the mining activities pick up. The clearances of mining contracts will be extremely strict this time around,” Ravi Naik, an industrialist in Majorda, told DW.
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