The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Goa government and mining companies to respond on a petition seeking to lower the cap on extraction of mineral ores in the State from the current 20 MTPA to a final 12 MTPA.The apex court asked the State and the companies to file their responses to a petition filed by NGO Goa Foundation, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, for reducing the interim cap of 20 MTPA.The petition also said the State and its citizens even runs the danger of increased pollution as the The Expert Committee on the CAP (ECOC) has recommended in its final report for an enhanced extraction of mineral ores from 20 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes.“Interim cap on extraction of mineral ores from Goa, recommended by the ECOC, was fixed in a vacuum, when mining had been suspended for several years. It was not fixed after confronting actual mining operations, when started, and their impact on people and environment,” the petition said.The petition said the present cap is subject to review as it is clear that “even 20 MT mineral extraction is deleterious to public health and environment”. The petition said the State does not have the infrastructure to handle such levels of extraction.It said the court should consider reducing the cap on mining in Goa to 5 MTPA.“At that level, mining could be conducted without damage to the environment, since it would be easier to monitor the activity and stop it immediately, if violations were observed,” the petition said.It said that though the mining industry was found to have damaged the environment of Goa in substantial, irreversible manner, as recorded in the reports of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission and the Central Empowered Committee, no rehabilitation of the damaged environment has even commenced despite mining having resumed, albeit on smaller scale, for the past two years.“In the current situation there is demonstrated proof that the mining industry is completely incapable and uninterested in balancing its interests with those of the environment and the villagers affected by their activities,” the petition said.A hearing has been scheduled in the matter for November 29.
Union Minister of Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal on Thursday termed the current economic slowdown as just a passing phase and said that efforts being taken by the government only showed that it cared.Reacting to former prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s views on the economic slow down the country is facing, the Union Minister said that he was surprised to know that Dr. Singh was saying that the BJP government was failing in handling the economy. “The country gave Dr. Singh, an eminent economist, the opportunity to run the country for 10 years. But they [UPA government] damaged the entire economic system. It was during their tenure that reckless bank loans messed up the banking sector, prices of commodities soared up, Mumbai faced a major terrorist attack and the government could not face the public,” he said addressing chartered accountants, industrialists and traders at an Assembly election-related event in Bhayandar. “Before the Modi government came to power people had lost hope and so did not demand anything from the government. But in last five years public has been demanding better facilities because they have immense hope in this government. Even a beggar will beg only in front of someone whom he knows will give him something,” Mr. Goyal said. The last five years have seen 75-78% rise in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and it will continue to grow with the efforts the Prime Minister is taking, Mr. Goyal added. “I hope you all remember the double digits inflation we faced during the United Progessive Alliance government. Fiscal deficit was as high as 6-6.5% and current account deficit was 4.5%. The country was handed to us with a damaged economy and we have brought about development across sectors,” he said. Talking of the steps by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to revive the economy, Mr. Goyal said, “ours is a responsible government. The efforts being taken show that the government cares about the economy.”