SHOMA PATNAIK | NT
After the incident of pollution in Sonshi due to transportation of ore through the village, the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has now swung into action to avoid similar incidents in the future involving mining companies.
The GSPCB has decided to make the mining companies pay for pollution by taking bank guarantee from the companies before granting them consent to operate.
“If a company fails to control the air and water pollution in the lease areas, the bank guarantee will be seized by the Board,” said Levinson Martins, member secretary, GSPCB.
The guarantee amount is likely to be based on area of the lease. It is expected to be Rs 50 lakh for mining lease area above 100 hectares, Rs 25 lakh for mining lease area between 50 and 100 hectares, and Rs 12.5 lakh for mining lease area below 50 hectares. Notices to companies on bank guarantee have already been drafted and are ready for dispatch on Tuesday.
Till date, the GSPCB has not renewed the consent to operate to 12 of the 13 mining leases operating in Sonshi village. The GSPCB is monitoring the air and water quality in the village using mining companies’ monitoring stations. Earlier, the GSPCB had installed a separate ambient air monitoring station to assess the pollution level. Later, it was felt that monitoring should be at the company mining stations to get an accurate picture.
“We are using variable data collected from different lease areas over a period of time (since May 2) to come out with a more accurate report on the air quality,” said Martins. The report will be presented on May 13 when GSPCB will meet to review the easures taken by mining companies to reduce pollution in the village.
Meanwhile, mining companies in Sonshi village have attributed the problem of pollution in the area to “lack of coordination between different leaseholders operating in the area.” A senior source in a company said, “The problem is of lack of coordination and also of managing villagers of Sonshi.” He claimed that effort of one leaseholder in reducing dust pollution is being counteracted by another who is not following the guidelines.
On April 19, the government issued fresh guidelines to reduce dust pollution in Sonshi. These include geonet fencing along the road near residential areas of the village, tarring of road shoulders to prevent dust generation, installation of cat-eye and road delineators, construction of rumblers at strategic places to replace speed breakers and installation of wheel-washing systems.
Companies have said that they have taken short-term measures or are in the process of following the directions. But the GSPCB has decided to not give companies the consent to operate until it is satisfied that the issue of dust pollution is resolved.