ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Iron-ore Mining in Goa

Intergenerational Equity Case Study

The public trust doctrine makes natural resources a part of the commons, owned equally by all, and legally owned by the state. The resources and opportunities that the present generation have inherited must be available to future generations in perpetuity. In the Goa mining case, the Supreme Court wanted to implement intergenerational equity on the grounds of the exhaustion of the iron-ore reserves as well as the widespread damage to the Goan environment and social fabric.

In an ongoing public interest litigation (PIL) around iron-ore mining in Goa, the Supreme Court is examining how to implement the intergenerational equity, that is, the principle that future generations must inherit at least as much as the present inherited. The petitioner, the Goa Foundation, an environmental non-profit organisation, is advocating a comprehensive framework for intergenerational equity. The Supreme Court has already ordered that a permanent fund must be set up—to our knowledge a global judicial precedent (Goa Foundation v UOI and Ors 2014). There are a number of other aspects being examined as well. In parallel, the Goa Foundation has launched a broader campaign, the Goenchi Mati (“Goan Earth”) movement, to implement the intergenerational equity in a comprehensive manner for all minerals in Goa. The eventual goal is to apply the framework across the globe, and for a broader class of inherited assets.

Goa is a small state in India, sandwiched between the Arabian Sea on the West and the Western Ghats—a steep escarpment rising 3,000 feet on the East, a mere 40 km away. While famous for its beaches, the interior of Goa is a landscape of rich, endemic biodiversity. Nearly two-thirds of Goa is covered by forests. Goa has nine major ecosystems including complex estuarine environments with combined agri-pisci-culture, lateritic (clayey, rich in oxides) plateaux, and the Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the planet. At the same time, Goa has large deposits of iron-ore, which it has exported in large quantities for over 50 years.

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Updated On : 7th Feb, 2017

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