Panaji: Nearly 40 per cent of the 100-odd mining operations in Goa are possibly functioning without requisite clearances, says a report by an international human rights organisation, citing Goa’s top pollution control official.
The 70-page report, compiled by Human Rights Watch (HRW), titled “Out of Control: Mining, regulatory failure and Human Rights in India”, also quotes Goa’s former environment minister Aleixo Sequeira, who called the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), the apex pollution control body in the state, as a “mere post office” between the state and central government. “It is quite possible that 40 per cent of mines are operating without clearances,” HRW quotes GSPCB chairperson Dr Simon de Souza, describing the industry which exported 54 million tonnes of ore in the last fiscal.
“Some mines may not have obtained consent to operate from the board – we cannot police that. We cannot see who is operating illegally unless someone complains,” de Souza is quoted as saying further.
The top pollution controlling authority in the state has also admitted to several administrative short comings including a lack of a “coherent filing system” and lack of manpower required for efficient discharging of his duties. “We are handicapped. It is impossible to oversee all these industries,” de Souza told HRW.
“It (GSPCB) has the power to conduct surprise inspections, including of mine sites and to shut down operations that do not maintain consents to operate issued by its staff,” the HRW report states, in sharp contradiction to Sequeira’s insistence that the board was a mere post office.
“Then Goa environment minister Aleixo Sequeira was dismissive of the board’s oversight role calling it a ‘mere post office’ that did little more than ferry paperwork between the central government and operations based in Goa,” says the report.