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India judicial commission indicts former minister for illegal mining practices

The Justice M.B. Shah Commission of Inquiry [official website], an Indian judicial committee investigating illegal mining practices, issued a report Friday that indicted Digambar Kamat, the former Chief Minister of the state of Goa [official website], for permitting illegal mining in the state during his 12 year tenure as the state's minister of mining. The report detailed irregularities in leasing practices to mining firms, concerns about oversight of mining operations, and contains many detailed satellite images showing the extent of the mining activities. The report directly links the irregularities to Kamat, saying that the acts were committed under the awareness of his ministerial offices, and occurred during his tenure. The report went on to state:

Undisputedly, in the State of Goa, most of the mines are in the forest area and also in eco-sensitive zone. Most of the mines are very close to the rivers or natural streams, and in most of the cases, streams are passing through the leased area. A sudden increase in production has resulted into degradation of environment, loss of bio-diversity, adverse effect on agriculture, horticulture, ground water table level, pollution of air and water and eco-system as a whole of the area.
The report recommended a reduction in permitted mine production amounts, and increased oversight with a wider group of government officials.

Governments around the world have struggled to strike a balance of environmental protection and effective oversight with resource development and economic growth. In August, a federal court in Brazil ordered [JURIST report] Chevron and drilling company Transocean [corporate websites] to suspend all oil drilling in Brazil within 30 days in the wake of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. In October 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] of the United States announced plans to develop standards for the disposal of wastewater [JURIST report] from the process of hydraulic fracturing [EPA backgrounder].

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