Panaji : In what could be a shot in the arm for anti-mining activists, government data tabled during the monsoon session of the Goa assembly reveals that over half of Goa’s 300-odd mining leases in the state are located in close proximity of water bodies.
In a written reply, state Water Resources Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues has said that the water resources department has also assigned the task of studying the impact of mining on water bodies to an independent agency for assessment.
“The department has been monitoring some rivers and notices have been issued to mining agencies found polluting or damaging river or water bodies,” Rodrigues said.
Anti-mining activists have over the years expressed fears of unchecked mining near numerous water bodies, which are linked to rivers that supply potable water.
According to data tabled in the assembly, Rodrigues said that several of the 182 mining leases exist within one kilometre of a major irrigation project, the Selaulim dam, which provides drinking water to a population of nearly six lakh in the south Goa district, virtually half of Goa.
The controversial mining leases dot the hinterland of the state, which is pockmarked by mining activity.
The opposition has also grilled the state government several times about mining reject being dumped in the Selaulim water reservoir, which in turn was affecting the dam’s catchment area.
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, also the state mines minister, had assured last year that all mining leases in proximity to the reservoir would be phased out in the next two or three years.
The majority of the 182 controversial mining leases are run by major mining firms namely V.M. Salgaoncar and Bros Pvt Ltd, Sesa Goa Ltd, Sociedade Timblo Irmaos Ltd, and Chowgule and Company Ltd, among others.