Providing some relief for iron ore mining companies in Goa, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed transportation of ore from loading points on river jetties, while disposing a joint special leave application filed by Vedanta Resources and another local mining company.
The apex court's ruling followed the filing of a special leave petition by the mining companies on Monday, appealing against the March 28 verdict of the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court, which had stopped all transportation of iron ore.
The apex court bench of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the iron ore for which royalty has been paid to the state government and has been extracted on or before March 15 this year, should be allowed to be transported.
"Under these circumstances, we are of the view that the iron ore which is royalty paid and which is lying on the jetties on or before March 15, 2018 should be permitted to be loaded on the barges and on the vessels so that they can be transported to their destinations, " its order read.
The order also states that other issues raised in the SLP may be adjudicated by the High Court bench in Panaji.
Mining activity in the state has been shut down since March 15, following a temporary ban by the Supreme Court, which had ruled that 88 mining leases in the state had been wrongly renewed and had directed the state government to issue the disputed mining leases afresh.
After winding down their operations in mining leases following the March 15 deadline, mining companies were lifting iron ore outside the lease for transportation to cargo ships mid - sea by river barges, which was objected to by a local NGO Goa Foundation, which had petitioned the High Court.
Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Goa Foundation's director Claude Alvares said that, while the Supreme Court's order allowed transportation of iron ore from the jetties, it did not establish the legality of the ore in question.
"The matter now comes back to the High court where government will have to submit data to prove its claim about which of the ore is royalty paid and which is not, " he said.