Let the polluter pay

The iron ore industry in Goa may be asked to cough up the costs for cleaning up the environmental mess it has made. The Goan government is considering a proposal to impose an environment tax on the state's iron ore mining and ore export industry. The environment cess of upto 10 per cent of the industry's annual earnings is expected to be ploughed back by the state government for the ecological rehabilitation of the mutilitated mining areas.

Obviously, the mining lobby has been opposing the additional tax burden. According to Shivanand V Salgaocar, chairperson of the Salgaocar industrial projects, mine owners in the state are already paying a substantial road tax and Central cess for environment and welfare projects.

The mining sector, however, is under severe attack from environmentalists and citizens' groups. The National Institute of Oceanography in Goa has confirmed damages to the state's sensitive estuarine ecosystem from ore siltation. The Indian Bureau of Mines has estimated the unusable ore as three times the actual ore extracted from Goan mines; the state has accumulated over 22 million tonnes of rejected ore in the past five years.