Mining crisis: Panaji faces traffic jams as protesters try to enter it

Mining crisis: Panaji faces traffic jams as protesters try to enter it

Panaji, Mar 19 (PTI) The city was hit by heavy traffic jams and major chaos today as thousands of mining and allied industry workers sought to march into it to protest the closure of the iron ore extraction industry in the state.

A minor skirmish occurred between the protesters and policemen near the Kadamba bus stand here when District Collector Nila Mohanan stopped the agitators from entering the city.

The angry protesters later blocked the main entry roads to the city, including the two bridges on the Mandovi river, leading to heavy traffic snarls and chaos.

The people were protesting against the closure of the mining industry since March 16, following a Supreme Court order.

The members of the various truckers associations and those from the shipping and mining machinery sectors participated in the protest.

"We are trying to ensure that there is no law and order problem. Police forces from outside Goa have also been called in and deployed along with the state police," Director General of Police Muktesh Chandar told reporters.

The security has been stepped up to ensure there is no damage to property, he said.

The protesters, who came from different villages of the iron ore-rich mining belt of both the North Goa and South Goa districts earlier in the morning, gathered at the city bus stand with plans to march to the Azad Maidan in Panaji.

The district authorities, however, stopped them at the entrance of the city.

The five-decade-old mining industry in the state came to a grinding halt from Friday with a Supreme Court order banning iron ore extraction.

The mining and tourism industries are the key revenue earners for the coastal state.

The apex court had last month quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa in 2015. It had set March 15 deadline for the miners to manage their affairs.

This is the second blow to the industry, which had faced closure in 2012 too, following the SC directives.

The industry stakeholders, including the truck owners and ship operators, are trying to persuade the state and the Centre for resumption of the mining activities.

Union minister Gadkari is scheduled to visit Goa later today to hold talks with the state government and various other industry stakeholders over the crisis. PTI RPS GK RAX RAX