Mining in Goa could resume in three months: Parrikar

Panaji, Sep 5 (IANS) Mining in Goa could resume in two or three months, and the Supreme Court of India is aware of the difficulties on the ground in Goa, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Thursday.

Parrikar was addressing a press conference after meeting local bankers over the issue of rescheduling loans taken by entrepreneurs involved in the mining sector.

Those working in this sector in the state have been hit by apex court ban on all mining activity in the state.

"We expect mining to start in two to three months. The Supreme Court is aware of the difficulties and has agreed to hear it (a petition against illegal mining in Goa) on a day to day basis," Parrikar said.

The chief minister also said that nearly Rs.1,700 crore of loans issued by local banks in Goa to those in the mining sector were outstanding, and that the government was talking to the banks to reschedule the loaned amounts, in view of the ban.

"The banks have assured us that there will be no harsh measures against the loanees. They have also agreed to work out a customer-based settlement," the chief minister said.

The state government has been in negotiation with the banking sector in a bid to find a solution to the loan crisis plaguing the mining sector.

Owners of several thousand mining trucks and mining barges claim to have lost employment and business following the ban, and are now finding it difficult to pay off loans.

Mining was banned in Goa in October last year on the directions of the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition on illegal mining filed by noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan and a local green NGO.

A judicial commission appointed by the union ministry for mines has already unearthed a scam estimated at Rs.35,000 crore, involving illegal mining in the state, in which politicians, bureaucrats and mining companies are linked.

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