Wed, 26 Jun, 2019

Why laterite stone pits not filled: Notices to villagers

15th April 2019, 03:19 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI/PERNEM  

Nearly a hundred residents of Tuem in Pernem taluka are restive over a “show-cause notice” they received from the Deputy Collector directing them to “immediately fill” pits dug in the hilly terrains of their village to mine minor minerals, mostly laterite stones.   

The deputy collector of Pernem, Chandrakant Shetkar issued the notices which were served through the mamlatdar’s office individually to the residents. Shetkar resorted to the notices after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the revenue department for letting quarry operators to mine the minor minerals and leaving the pits they dig open posing danger to humans and wildlife.   

The Goa Environment Protection Committee (GEPC) had filed a petition before the NGT asking it to take note of illegal laterite stone quarries in Goa, particularly in Pernem taluka. The petition urged the Tribunal to issue orders for filling up of the pits as they are dangerous to human life as well as to wild animals.   

As digging these pits was also detrimental to the environment, GEPC also prayed for orders to fill them up in a scientific manner.   

After the hearing the petitioners, the NGT had sought clarifications from the State Department of Mines and Geology, which however filed a report in which it told the Tribunal that under the Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 1985, there was no provision that required filling up of the 

pits in a scientific manner.   

The report however opined that Deputy Collectors have powers under the Goa Land Revenue Code to mandate filling up of the pits.   

Taking cognizance of the Mines Department’s report, the NGT then issued notices to the Deputy Collectors. Following the NGT notice, the deputy collector issued show-cause notices en-mass to villagers of Tuem and then reported to the NGT that that necessary action is being initiated under the provisions of the Land Revenue Code.   

At the last hearing held on April 3, Shetkar assured the NGT to file an action taken report prompting him to send the notices to laterite mine owners in Pernem taluka.   

There are at least 90 land owners in whose land laterite stone quarrying is being regularly carried out. These land owners have been directed by Shetkar to appear before him on April 16 at 10.30 am.   

NGT expressed that environmental protection laws must be implemented effectively and suggested that the Goa government prepare Standard Operating Processes (SOP). The NGT also suggested training for officers concerned.   

Meanwhile the State’s Advocate General told the NGT that laterite stone pits will be filled within six months and a report on the progress will be sent to the NGT after every three months