PANAJI: Acceding to instructions of the Goa State Pollution Control Board, mining companies engaged in the extraction of iron ore have started presenting bank guarantees with their applications seeking consent to operate.
Two companies seeking consent approached the board office with bank guarantees on Thursday. One of them could be Vedanta as the company’s permission to operate in four leases located in Bicholim, Codli, Sankhali and Kolamba (Sanguem) ends on May 19.
A senior GSPCB official said that more bank guarantees are expected from companies as the permission to operate has expired for several of the 39 leases, or is due for renewal shortly.
Bank guarantee from mining companies seeking consent is a first-time instruction of the pollution board and it has not found favour with the mining industry.
Over the past week, companies have received letters from the GSPCB asking them to furnish bank guarantee before their application to operate are considered. Moreover the consent is being given for a period of four months while previously it had been for a period of two years. Mining comes to a halt in Goa once the monsoon sets in.
The GSPCB official explained that the consent will be valid post monsoon as it is for four working months, viz. somewhere until December 2017.
The board decision to insist on bank guarantee is the latest measure to tackle air and water pollution in mining areas after news broke out of unchecked pollution in Sonshi village.
Companies will have to take measures to prevent pollution or will forfeit the guarantee if the pollution control measures are inadequate.
The GSPCB has kept in abeyance the decision to renew consent to operate for leases located in the Sonshi cluster. The important board meeting scheduled for May 19 to decide on mining in Sonshi is learnt to have been postponed and is likely to be held next week on Tuesday.
The bank guarantee asked by the GSPCB is based on the area of the lease. It is in the region of Rs 50 lakh for the lease area above 100 hectares, Rs 25 lakh for the area between 50 and 100 hectares, and Rs 12.5 lakh for mining lease area below 50 hectares.
A GMOEA source said the GSPCB asking for bank guarantee prior to giving consent is unusual.
“It looks as if the issue is not of controlling pollution but of asking companies to pay up if they want to operate,” he said.