Panaji, April 20 (IANS) There is an urgent need to restart the state’s mining industry, especially at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is bound to have a glodal economic fall out, Goa’s only body of ore exporters said on Monday.
With the tourism sector likely to face setbacks in a post Covid-19 scenario, the mining industry remains the state’s best bet for generation of revenue and re-starting the economic processes, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association said in a statement issued here.
“In this pandemic situation where the world economic fallout is inevitable, there is an urgent need to resume mining activities in Goa so that the socio-economic condition in the state can be stronger,” the statement said.
“The state debt of Goa has reached dangerous levels of over Rs 20,000 crores as per recent state budget figures. This sharp increase in debt levels can be attributed to shutdown of mining activities which has led to revenue loss of Rs. 7,000 crores in the last two years,” the statement said.
The mining sector in Goa has been unoperational for nearly two years now, after the Bombay High Court in Goa raised questions about the manner in which mining leases in the state were renewed, following a petition filed by a green NGO from Goa.
The statement said that Goa was a model state in the country with respect to mining and was uniquely positioned for the immediate resumption of operations as all workforce, infrastructure and relevant statutory clearances are in place, on account of most mining companies continuing to meet safety, environmental and health norms in compliance with numerous orders issued by the centre and the state.
Quoting Ambar Timblo, the president of the exporters’ association, the statement said that despite prolonged stoppages in mining processes in Goa, the mining industry had paid government agencies stamp duties, land revenue conversion payments in excess of Rs 1,500 crore, provisions to the government funds such as District Mineral Fund and Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund in excess of Rs 700 crore and generated foreign exchange of over $ 1 billion.
“Goa is a model state in India in regard to mining. The reputation damage on our industry has been consistently caused by false and un-substantive allegations by vested interest groups,” Timblo said.