Date: Apr 11, 2018

In his article, ‘The Deep Damage Below’, Vedanta CEO Anil Agarwal argued that India’s mining industry, in the context of the Supreme Court order to shut down Goa’s mining operations from March 16, should be encouraged, not damaged.

What he relates in his article is only a small part of the story. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that it had found that all iron ore leaseholders, including Vedanta, had carried on mining activity for five years (November 22, 2007 to September 10, 2012) in Goa without possessing a valid mining lease. The court, therefore, declared that “mining by the lessees after 22.11.2007 was illegal”. In the case of illegal mining, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act rightly provides for the recovery of the illegally mined ore or its full value, and penalties and/or jail terms for miners involved in illegal mining. Sesa Goa, majority-owned by London-based Agarwal, turned out to be the largest illegal miner in Goa.

The amount recoverable from Sesa Goa (now Vedanta Limited) was estimated, from their own annual reports, at Rs 20,924 crore. This is an astonishing Rs 1.43 lakh per Goan, enough to finance a perpetual real citizen’s dividend of Rs 300 per Goan per month for life.

Wealth that should have been invested in a permanent fund for the future generations of Goa is now sequestered in London.
In late 2014 and early 2015, in an attempt to regularise the illegal mining period, the Goa government retrospectively backdated 88 lease renewals. 31 renewals were conducted on the day the MMDR Act was amended by Ordinance to prevent mining lease renewals.

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