The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on 24 October 2013 banned mining within one kilometer area of the national parks and sanctuaries of Goa, anymore. The decision was taken to take the state one step closer to restart iron ore excavation mining in a regulated style. The issued order was released to resolve the issues that require a solution to restart regulated mining in the coastal state.
As per the order the area up to one kilometer beyond the boundaries of the National Parks and Sanctuaries in Goa can be declared as the Ecologically Sensitive Zone under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and mining activities can be banned as per the Act.
As per the Justice Shah Commission’s report the mining activities in the state across the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries were started without the clearance from the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife that had been mandated by the Supreme Court. At present the Supreme Court of India is hearing the case related to the suspension of mining works in the state.
Even, the Environment Ministry has started re-evaluating each and every mine for its environmental clearances under the green laws after suspending the works. The Goa state Government has also sent the proposals to the union government to declare the Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs) around the protected wildlife area, following the earlier order of Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court of India has ordered the central and the state governments to decide the boundaries of the ESZs across the protected wildlife areas or as per the Court in the area of 10 kilometers periphery around them was to be accepted as the ESZs by default.
As per the State Government, the boundaries of the six wildlife areas can be used as the limit of the ESZs because of the features. To study the proposals, the Ministry constituted a committee with Rajesh Gopal as its Chairman. But the committee in its report suggested that in many cases the natural features across the boundaries of the ESZ ended within few hundred meters of the parks. The committee also recommended creation of the zone of the no-mining across the boundary up to 1 kilometer. The committee also recommended the ministry that the mining activities across the area should be banned in future. It also recommended that around two of the six sanctuaries should be phased out over the time to ensure that there was no loss of livelihood of people.
The Ministry had also accepted the report of the committee and as per the recommendation the Bhagwan Mahaveer and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuaries mining, which can be phased out on the basis of the State Governments’ Plans. The draft notifications about the sanctuaries will be released by the ministry following the decision of the Supreme Court of India, as still the case is on in the Supreme Court.