New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) The Supreme Court today allowed Vedanta Ltd and some other firms to transport royalty-paid iron ore, which was extracted and lying on jetties in Goa on or before March 15.

The apex court had in February quashed the second renewal of 88 iron ore mining leases in Goa in 2015 and had asked the firms to stop all mining operations from March 16 until fresh mining leases and environmental clearances were granted to them.

While allowing these firms to transport the royalty paid iron ore, a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked Goa to “ensure and confirm only that iron ore is loaded which is royalty paid and which is lying in the jetties on or before March 15, 2018”.

It noted the submissions of the lawyers appearing for the companies that iron ore, which was sought to be loaded on the vessels in the port area in Goa, was royalty paid and it was removed and brought to the jetties on or before March 15.

“Under these circumstances, we are of the view that the iron ore which is royalty paid and which is lying on the jetties on or before March 15, 2018 should be permitted to be loaded on the barges and on the vessels so that they can be transported to their destinations,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the counsel representing Goa told the bench that mining operations have stopped in the state after March 15 according to the orders of the apex court.

In its February 7 judgement, the top court had held as illegal the renewal given to the companies saying that the move was against the earlier decisions and orders of the apex court which in 2014 had said that the state was required to grant fresh mining leases and not to give second renewal.

It had directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them and asked the state to take necessary steps to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

The court had given time till March 15 to mining lease holders, who were granted a second renewal in violation of its previous directions, to manage their affairs.

The verdict had come on a petition filed by NGO Goa Foundation, challenging the Goa government’s order in 2015 for a second renewal of 88 mining leases.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.