Goa Mining: First preference to existing workers on auctioned leases
Panaji, July 13 (IANS) After the Opposition raised the issue of retrenchment notices served to mining workers, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Tuesday that the government will ask mining companies winning the auction to retain the existing workforce working on those mining leases.
Sawant was replying to an attention motion moved by Congress MLA Michael Lobo on the need to protect mining workers. Lobo raised the concern as mining companies have started the process to retrench the workers.
The mining issue has been hanging in fire in Goa ever since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases in March 2018, while also directing the state government to re-issue mining leases.
"The Directorate of Mining and Geology will ask these companies (who win the auction) to employ the existing workforce," Sawant said.
Lobo said that many people are directly and indirectly dependent on mining, hence there is a need to resume mining.
"After auctioning the leases, what are going to be conditions (to be set by the government for the companies), will they respect the local people? Will the contractors engage the local workforce? How many Goans will be employed? Will they engage Goan trucks or will they bring trucks from other states," Lobo asked.
He said that the government should make it mandatory that locals get the first preference.
"One company has given retrenchment notice to the workers, while the other companies have also kept their notices ready. If they don't win the auction, they will sack the workers. Around 5,000 workers will be affected," Lobo said.
Sawant in his reply said that in order to restart mining activity in the state, the government is gearing up for auctioning the mining blocks on priority.
"As the first round of the auction process is proposed to be completed in the next 3-4 months, the experienced workforce available in Goa is expected to get employment once the mining activity resumes in the state. The state will explore the possibility of giving preference to the existing workforce after the auction process is completed and mining activity is resumed," Sawant said.
He said that in order to auction the mining blocks expeditiously, the state has entered into an MoU with the Mineral Exploration Consultancy Limited (MECL), a Government of India enterprise, for providing geological reports.