Panaji: A Goa government panel has recommended capping mining activity in the coastal state at 20 million metric ton in the next four years in order to protect fragile ecosystem and reduce the social stress.
   
Goa Golden Jubilee Development Council (GGJDC), headed by scientist Raghunath Mashelkar pointed out that unbridled mining activity has surpassed the social and environmental threshold in the region.
   
A document, tilted Vision 2035, prepared by the panel has proposed an upper limit at around 20 million metric ton on mining between 2010-15 to protect deteriorating ecosystem and social stress in the region.
   
The document was handed over to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on the state Liberation Day on December 19.

Majority of the cumulative export of 54 million metric ton from Goa is Iron Ore owing to a huge demand in steel industry from China.
   
The Mashelkar panel has also recommended a ban on mining activity in protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and even in the high-sensitive regions of the state.
   
"Close all mines that have been extracting ore beyond limits allowed by environmental clearance given by Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF)," the document reads, adding "mining leases in wildlife sanctuaries should be permanently cancelled".

The Vision Document, which was prepared after holding intense deliberations with different stakeholders comprising state government officials, organisations, intellectuals, common public etc, emphasises that state must not encourage opening of additional mines until the worked-out mines are exhausted and backfilled after necessary reclamation works.


Mining has seen a significant rise by 20 million metric ton in production in the last five years, soaring to 49 million metric ton in 2009.

Mining contributes 4.8 percent to State Domestic Product. A chunk of 89 percent of total export of iron ore from Goa is to China and 8 percent to Japan.

According to the panel, incessant mining activity has taken its toll on the natural resources in the state.

"These (mining activities as whole) include the impact on ground water as the dumping is very close to water bodies and settlements. Impact on agriculture is a cause of concern too. The effect on the forests in the Western Ghats and the desiccation of orchards is another concern," it adds.

(Agencies)