PANAJI: The state government in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court stated that it would be impossible to restrict mining operations being carried out below the water table as it amounts to imposing an indirect ban on all mining operations in Goa.

The state government, in its affidavit, said the environment clearance issued for carrying out mining operations does not impose any restriction of not going beyond the water table, neither does it fix any depth below which mining should not be carried out.

‘Therefore it would be unfair to state that mining in Goa should be restricted to a depth that does not go below the water table; it would be an impossible condition and would amount to indirectly banning all mining in Goa,’ stated the affidavit.

The affidavit stated that more than 60 percent of the iron ore deposits in Goa is situated below the ground water table and therefore, ground water extraction becomes an integral part of the mining process.

‘As Goa receives an annual rainfall of 3.5m- 4.0m, therefore the ground water recharging is very fast and the effect of mining below the ground water table is also minimum,’ the affidavit stated.

There is no law in the country which prohibits working below the ground water table. If the deposit exists below the ground water table and if it is economically viable for extraction, then anybody can work below that by following certain procedures, it stated further.

The state government has already resolved to appoint an expert agency to undertake detailed EIA of mining operations in Goa and the study shall inter-alia also go into damages to aquifers and impact on the water table and water recharge, the affidavit stated.

The state government also intends to undertake an environmental audit by engaging an expert environmental agency such as NEERI or CRGI or some such other national or international body to study various aspects including matters relating to, and more particularly mining in the state of Goa vis-a-vis the infrastructure load, permissible and possible mining, limits of further expansion and elimination/prohibition in certain areas while strictly regulating it in other areas, the affidavit stated.