Postal Department Releases Special Cover On ‘Khola Chili’

With an aim to promote Goa’s unique chili at the national and international level, the Indian Postal Service, Goa Division, released the special cover and special cancellation on Khola Chili’.

The special postal cover and special cancellation on ‘Khola Chili’ was released at the hands of the Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavlekar at a function held at the Secretariat.

The Postmaster General, Goa Division Col S F H Rizvi, Senior Superintendent of Post Offices Dr Sudhir Jhakere, Director of Agriculture Nevil Alphonso and Vice President of Khola Chilli Producers and Farmers Association Krishna Velip were present at the function.

Kavlekar who is also the agriculture minister stated that this initiative by the Indian Postal Service would boost the efforts of the State Government to promote the ‘Khola Chili’.

He said that this is an additional boost for ‘Khola Chilli’ after it has bagged geographical indication tag as locally grown chilli in the village of Khola in Canacona taluka. Kavlekar further stated that the farmer producer organisation has been formed in Khola village, and added that the government will set up a chilli processing unit, which will enable further value addition to the locally grown chilli.

Postmaster General Rizvi said that this will help to encourage local chilli growing farmers, and promote the Goa brand at national and international level.

Goa’s Industrial Policy to focus on logistics and small units

Swetika Sachan, Director, Industries, Trade and Commerce said that the State’s updated Goa Industrial Policy 2021 is expected to place emphasis on logistics, agri-produce, fisheries and small units. Sachan stated that the policy will aid in the growth of industries in the State and fix gaps in production.

Sachan, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board, said that the proposed policy would have logistics as a focus area since it is an industry where no guidelines have been formulated so far.

Sachan also explained that while Goa has several schemes to promote industrial growth, these measures needed to be brought together in order to attract fresh industries and revitalise existing units.

The Goan industry has been hoping for an industrial policy that will bring in procedural reforms and reduce the compliance burden on units. With manufacturing activity sluggish, local industry bodies expect the proposed policy to propel growth. The 2017 Policy aimed at non-polluting industries for the State while keeping away alcohol, cigarette and ‘red’ industries. It hoped to attract IT, electronics and knowledge-based industries to Goa.

GSIA miffed with water tariff hike

The Goa State Industries Association (GSIA) has strongly objected to the State Government for providing free water to households while industrial units were burdened with a tariff hike.

Damodar Kochkar, President of GSIA said that industries received a circular of a water tariff hike and the new rates for water is `37 per cubic meter and for industries, which use water as raw material the rate is `78 per cubic meter from `74 per cubic meter.

Further, Kochkar added that the industry, that is the highest contributor to the State’s GDP has been struggling for the last 18 months due to the pandemic.

Kochkar also claimed that with the increase in water tariff, industries would be forced to buy water from tanker suppliers or draw water from bore wells, leading to depletion in groundwater levels and cause environmental damage.

The PWD notification mentioned that water charges for industries would be increased by five per cent at the beginning of each financial year and units would have to pay arrears whenever the charges are revised. From May 12, 2020 till date, the PWD raised the water charges for industries thrice, from `30 per cubic meter to `35 per cubic meter followed by `37 per cubic meter.

CEC probes Goa’s Mineral Welfare Fund Scheme

Mining in Goa

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court has expressed their resentment over the State Government’s act of notifying the Goa Mineral Ore Permanent Fund Trust Scheme in the official gazette of the government without prior approval from the apex court.

In its report dated September 8, the CEC said, “It is seen that the State of Goa has formally notified the Goa Mineral Ore Permanent Fund Trust Scheme in gazette dated 01.07.2021,” while pointing out that, “This should not have been done without first obtaining the approval of this Honourable Court to the Scheme.”

The particular scheme aims to set aside 10 per cent of the e-auction sale proceeds and 10 per cent of the future sale / export price of iron ore for the welfare of communities and restoration of areas affected by mining.

However, the CEC has suggested that the court may approve the draft of the Goa Mineral Ore Permanent Fund Trust Scheme, subject to the condition that as and when any changes in the Scheme become necessary, prior approval of the Supreme Court will be obtained.

The State Government had notified the particular scheme in July, earlier this year, thus paving way for setting up of the fund, of which no amount will be utilised for any purpose other than towards the affected people and areas. However, 10 per cent of the balance fund could be used in case of disaster emanating from mining-related activities or any unforeseen disaster such as pandemic, epidemic and any other natural calamity.

Margao, Fatorda and Ponda MLAs to jointly inspect draft ODP

At the board meeting of the South Goa Planning and Development Authority (SGPDA), Chairman and Nuvem MLA Wilfred D’sa informed that a decision to carry out a joint site inspection along with MLAs of Margao, Fatorda and Ponda was taken. This decision was taken in view of the 65 objections filed against the draft outline development plan (ODP) of the SGDPA.

D’Sa further said that after the inspection the draft ODP would be forwarded to the higher authority and then be kept open for two months for objections and suggestions.

He also stated that the SGPDA’s technical section had considered these objections and done the necessary correction to the earlier prepared ODP visiting the site. Meanwhile Digambar Kamat said, “We have told the chairperson that there should be no change of zone while preparing the draft ODP, minor mistakes can be rectified and that too would be decided after the joint inspection.” Vijay Sardesai said that he had demanded that the chairperson follow the consultative process while preparing the ODP. He pointed out that the communidade-tenanted lands have been shown as settlement zone on the draft ODP, which he objected to.

Shack owners hail 50% license fee waiver

Shacks in Goa

The cabinet agreed to waive off 50 per cent license fees for beach shack operators for the current tourism season.

Cruz Cardozo, President of Shack Owners Welfare Society said that the shack owners were happy with the government’s decision.

Cardozo stated that they had initially requested for a complete rebate or at least a 75 per cent rebate but this 50 per cent rebate will help considerably given that the last season was bad in terms of business due to the pandemic.

The shack owners intend to approach the Government again with the issue of payment of GEL fees as all the formalities were being done by the Tourism Department with respect to issuing licenses and maintaining records.

Shack owners usually pay the fees by September 15, following which the process of shack demarcation is taken up by the Tourism Department. Once set up, official permissions are granted so as to allow the shacks to begin operations.

Shack operators, who usually set up their shacks between September to May, have over the last year had to cut short the season or start late. “We think this season will be better than the last. As of today, there are a lot of Indian tourists visiting Goa and there aren’t enough restaurants on the beach to cater to them. Once the shacks start operating, we hope that it will be better for us and the tourists,” said Cardozo.

Maintaining and adhering to set standard operating procedures, (SOP) will also be crucial for shack owners.

Goa SEZ land to be e-auctioned

The State Government will be auctioning SEZ land in phases with the first auction for five lakh sq mt of land due shortly.

Dr Suresh Shanbhogue, Director of the Department of Public Private Partnership (PPP) said that the State is ready to allot plots in the SEZ land through the e-auctioning process.

Shanbhogue stated that the Request For Bid (RFB) document, interested in setting up industries as per the GIDC Act, has been finalised and was ready to be floated anytime. The RFB document provides details of the proposed plots, the allotment process, timeline of allotment including a copy of the lease document.

The PPP department is providing hand-holding support to Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) in executing the auction.

Shanbhogue added that outside investors are interested in purchasing industrial plots in the State.

With industry in the State facing shortage of land for setting up new projects and for expansion, the government is trying to free the SEZ land for the existing companies as well as investors.

Government Keen To Auction All Iron Ore Leases To Restart Mining

Mining in Goa

The State Government is firm on auctioning all iron ore leases to restart the mining industry and even the 88 iron ore leases, which were quashed by the Supreme Court vide its 2018 order, are to be put up for the bidding process.

A source said that issues related to surface rights, lease boundaries and overlapping lease areas have to be sorted for the 88 leases.

On September 7, the Supreme Court rejected mining company Vedanta’s appeal to be granted lease rights until 2037 with the State Government being party to the appeal.

Two leaseholders, Vedanta and Geetabala Parulekar, had appealed for extension of lease rights for 50 years; of which the apex court dismissed Vedanta’s appeal and allowed the petition of Parulekar to be withdrawn.

As per the Supreme Court order of 2018, mining companies were given one month’s time to leave the lease area.

However, the Government had not acted on the said order because it was awaiting the court’s decision on validity of leases.

The State is planning to appoint a transaction advisory within a month’s time to help in preparing the tendering process and advising on the auction price.The transaction advisory will come on the heels of signing of an MoU with the Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd for conducting mineral exploration in the State.

With the State heading for Assembly Elections, the government wants to handle reopening of the mining industry sensitively.

The Government’s aim now is the restart the industry under the procedure mandated by the MMDR Act.

Mining operations will be restarted through the mining corporation and the auction route for which the MECL will be doing the exploration and consultancy.

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