Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said the government has already initiated the process for the grant of licences to extract minor minerals like sand and laterite stone after the protracted adjudication and directions from the High Court.
Sawant broached the subject during his customary post-cabinet press conference where he said, traditional sand and laterite mining will be permitted soon and the government has streamlined the process of issuing licences.
“As per the directions of the High Court, the National Institute of Oceanography has given us clearance to grant sand mining licences in the Chapora river,” Sawant said.
The NIO, meanwhile, is yet to give the State clearance for sand mining in the Mandovi, Zuari and other rivers in South Goa.
Sawant said, it is all being monitored by the High Court and the report of the NIO clearly quantifies the extent sand mining that can be carried out.
On laterite mining, Sawant said, licences will be issued in three categories -- private land, government land and Comunidade land.
Where applicant is going to extract laterite stones from private land, they can apply directly to Directorate of Mines and Geology and also simultaneously apply for ‘Environment Clearance’ online via the government of India portal, he said.
“The clearances will be granted within 25-30 days,” Sawant claimed.
In the second category involving government land, the process is the same but the DMG will first issue them a lease and only then can they proceed to obtain the EC, which may take more time.
On Comunidade land, if the NOC from the managing committee is granted, the process to obtain the clearances with the DMG and getting the EC will follow the same pattern as in private land but will take around 45 days, he said.
Extraction and trading of sand in Goa has been under severe stress for several years with intermittent interventions from the courts due to the absence of a firm policy or scientific regime to grant extraction licences.
The courts had banned the activity over concerns of environmental destruction of riverine ecosystems, particularly erosion of the banks of several rivers including Tiracol in some parts of Pernem, Chapora in Siolim and other contiguous areas of Bardez and also in Colvale and Amona.
However, extraction and trade used to happen clandestinely and much of it came from across the borders both in the north and south.
The resolution of the issue with the intervention of the High Court could come as a relief to the construction and real estate industry in the State which faced shortages all these years.