The Supreme Court quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in 2015 in Goa today, reports from PTI.
The apex court said that the state government was obliged to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with law, in view of the previous judgment and not issue second renewals to the mining leaseholders.
The court directed the Centre and the State Government of Goa to grant fresh environmental clearances to 88 companies.
A bench consisting of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the mining leaseholders, who have been granted a second renewal in violation of its previous decision and directions, are allowed time to manage their affairs and may continue mining operations till March 15 this year.
"However, they are directed to stop all mining operations with effect from March 16, 2018, until fresh mining leases (not fresh renewals or other renewals) are granted and fresh environmental clearances are granted," the bench said.
"The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa was unduly hasty, without taking all relevant material into consideration and ignoring available relevant material and therefore not in the interests of mineral development," it added.
The decision, the bench said, was taken only to augment the revenues of the state, which is outside the purview of Section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
"The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa is liable to be set aside and is quashed," the bench held.
An NGO filed a petition, Goa Foundation, which had raised the issue of companies carrying out mining in violation of various statutes earlier also.
The court has also directed to set up an SIT and a team of Chartered Accountants to recover the amount from the mining companies which were allowed to extract ore in violation of the law.