As ordered by the Supreme Court last month, Goa sealed all its iron ore mines on Friday. The government, however, allowed the lease holders to carry out “safety works” to prevent the mines from caving in. It also told them to ensure security at the sites, presumably to guard the extracted ore, which is now state property.
On February 7, the Supreme Court had quashed the state government’s order to renew leases of mining companies and set March 16 as the deadline to stop all mining activity.
The miners had moved out machinery and personnel on Thursday. In eastern Goa, the centre of the mining, around 2,500 trucks and heavy excavators are lined up outside their owners’ homes, signalling the absence of any mining activity.
Put out of work suddenly, associations of workers, truckers and others associated with mining have called meetings at several places over the next few days to discuss the situation. Some of them have already met legislators over the past two weeks, threatening to “paralyse the state” if mining was not resumed and the government did not find a political solution to the impasse. They are expected to organise a march to the capital Panaji on March 19.
After the Supreme Court delivered its order, excavation was cranked up. As a result, ore production for this year jumped from six million metric tonnes in early February to 10 million metric tonnes now.