Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

ORE TRANSPORTATION DURING LOCKDOWN IS SHEER HYPOCRISY & MISUSE OF COVID19 LOCKDOWN GUIDELINES : GOA FOUNDATION

HAS THE HEALTH MINISTER BEING CONSULTED ABOUT THIS ACTIVITY AND UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS IT CAN BE ALLOWED? : CLAUDE

According to the NGO Goa Foundation, Vedanta is illegally operating beneficiation plants with the active connivance of the Goa government, despite environmental norm requirements.

Goa Foundation’s – Claude Alvares told media persons that “This is a misuse of the Covid19 Lockdown Guidelines issued by the Central Government. The government claims that only 25 trucks will be permitted per hour, as per the guidelines. Where is this stated in the guidelines?”.

Alvares further questioned whether “Is the Goa police force or the RTO capable of enforcing some control and management over the movement of trucks, or do the people in the mining areas have to resume their suffering from this activity? In the past, the police have clearly been unable to do so.”

He said that “Lakhs of Goans have been told to stay at home by the Prime Minister of India and to wear masks. However, heavy and uncontrolled movement of mining trucks on open roads through human settlements makes nonsense of these directions. This is sheer hypocrisy. Covid19, the Goa government should be reminded, is a respiratory illness. By what yardstick is an activity that is closely associated with respiratory illness being allowed in the hot summer on Goa’s roads, with Covid19 lurking around  every corner?”

Vedanta and now others (who claim they own the ore that was removed prior to 15.3.2018, when the ban imposed by the Supreme Court came into force) are desperately trying to move ore prior to the monsoon without there being any rationale for violating the guidelines. Iron ore is not fruit or vegetable that it must be moved or it would perish. It can remain and be moved once lockdown procedures are relaxed. At the moment, only industries located within industrial estates are being permitted to restart after April 21. However, mineral transportation is on public roads, not in IDC estates. It exposes the public directly, said Goa Foundation.

The NGO further said that “Despite several assurances, all the present movement of iron ore is being carried out without any monitoring or controls from the Department of Mines & Geology which is in a self-induced coma. Good quality ore long concealed on mining leases is being sold and moved as e-auctioned ore. Illegal transportation is therefore inevitable”.

“The lockdown guidelines allow mineral production and transportation. However, this can only be construed as movement related to essential production of iron and steel within the country. There is no mineral production or extraction going on at the moment in the State. Export of ore from India to China cannot, by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, be exempt from the operation of the lockdown guidelines.  The Supreme Court has held that such export is incidental to the country’s interests”,  said Alvares.

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