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Anxiety for fishermen in Goa as mining is set to resume

fishermen in Goa

Fishermen in Goa. Creative Commons: Karunakar Rayker, 2008

Fishermen in Goa, India are bracing themselves as mining in the region could start again as soon as March 2015.

The 2012 Supreme Court of India’s ban on iron ore mining was lifted last year. If it recommences, there will be serious implications for the local fishing community who have been vocal in the past about the impacts of water pollution on their trade.

Before the 2012 ban, there were 20 large mines in operation in the catchment area of the Mandovi Rover. During this period the water pollution was so severe that the river was reported to have ‘turned red’.

Besides the economic and social costs of mining, the environmental impact was also sizeable.

The mines that ran the 65-mile length of Goa’s coastline generated more than 100,000 tons of mining waste per year, according to the Centre for Science and Environment.

Despite this, the ban was lifted last year and the mining could occur as soon as March this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are keen to capitalise on Goa’s mining trade.

Goa used to export more than 55 million tons of iron ore, especially to China, before it was banned.

Furthermore, industry groups argue that approximately 1 million jobs have been lost because of the 2012 ban.

However, when the mining activities were legal, it has been shown that a large proportion of the revenue was collected by illegal business activity.

The Goa Foundation said that one of the 90 illegal mining companies took $821 million from 2003 to 2010. In that same period the government took $47 million.

Officials say that they have new processes that will prevent companies mining illegally.

However, no official steps have been taken towards protecting the local economy and ecology.

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