Panaji: The Bombay High Court bench in Goa on Tuesday April 12 directed the stoppage of transportation of iron ore, which was auctioned online by the state government from existing ore stacks at a mine located in Pissurlem village in North Goa.
In their order on Tuesday, Justices MS Sonak and RN Laddha also questioned the state government over whether the e-auction was conducted by the state government “without ascertaining and declaring the grade of the ore to be auctioned”.
“We would also like to know the position from the State Government about holding of e-auction without ascertaining and declaring the grade of the ore to be auctioned. In the present case, the records indicate that the material was knocked down at the base price of Rs 350 per metric tos,” the High Court order said.
The High Court order follows a petition by the Goa Foundation, a leading green NGO in Goa, who had alleged that the iron ore was e-auctioned at a “knocked down” base price of Rs 350 per tonne, without the state government undertaking the due diligence of ascertaining the grade of ore which was being auctioned. The petition alleged that the price of the iron ore which has been e-auctioned was pegged at Rs 1,360 per tonne.
The NGO also told the High Court that the e-auction was conduced by the state government without engaging its agencies to ascertain the ore content or the grade of the ore, as a result of which the ore was eventually sold for a base price of Rs 350 per tonne.
The Court order has also said that it needs to satisfy itself about measures being taken to curb pollution along the ore transportation route.
“We would like to satisfy ourselves that there is proper compliance with the requirements of installation of AAQM (ambient air quality monitoring) Stations along the specified route of transportation before such transportation continues any further,” the High Court said in its order.
The Court directive follows allegations levelled by the petitioner, who had alleged that the ore transportation was not being monitored by the state government’s pollution monitoring agent, the Goa State Pollution Control Board, as a result of which there were popular protests by villagers residing along the ore transportation route.