Murky mining: on SC cancelling mining leases in Goa
Mining activity in Goa should now begin on a clean slate
The Supreme Court order to halt the murky (संदेहास्पद) course that mining has taken in Goa should help restore some balance to the exploitation of iron and manganese ore in the ecologically fragile (दुर्बल) State. As the court observed this week in the Goa Foundation case, commercial mining activity can be rapacious (खूँखार) in the absence of clearly laid down and strictly enforced conditions. This is exactly what has happened in Goa, with the State government displaying shocking disregard for rules and processes while renewing licences for a second time in 2015. It inexplicably (बिना किसी स्पष्टीकरण के) chose not to exercise its right to view the licences as fresh leases that require new environmental impact assessments. The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Goa invited a cloud of suspicion by hastily (जल्दी) launching the renewal of licences just a day after it unveiled a Grant of Mining Leases Policy on November 4, 2014. Quite extraordinarily, it issued 31 orders on a single day, January 12, 2015, apparently to pre-empt the Centre’s Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance that came into force the same day. Now that the Supreme Court has ordered the termination of 88 licences, grant of fresh licences and proper accounting of the losses, mining activity in its entirety should begin on a clean slate. Future decisions should be guided solely by the true cost to the environment and to human health.
Goa has argued that the mining industry is crucial to its economy as it brings in foreign exchange, provides employment and supports a transport industry. Yet, it is also true that the ore mined in the State is low in iron, reducing its value to the domestic steel industry. Given that mining has a severe destructive impact on the ecology, resumption of large-scale activity should await a scientific audit of how sustainable it is. Any more mining should also account for the loss of employment while calculating economic gains. Just last year, public protests over contaminated (दूषित) groundwater and fouled air, as in Sattari taluk, underscored the need for strict environmental controls. It is relevant to point out that the Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee found in 2013 that many of the past leases had been issued without the approval of the National Board for Wildlife, and miners had extracted ore in excess. The requirement for clearance from the Central Ground Water Board was ignored. Going forward, the Environment Ministry must display zero tolerance to such violations, reversing its indefensible (असमर्थनीय) decision of 2015 to lift its own abeyance (स्थगन) order issued against unsustainable mining. The Supreme Court’s directions provide Goa with an opportunity: to change course and become a mainstream tourist State. It can regain its position as a top destination for global visitors and broaden employment in services. Tourist charters need to replace its open cast mines and dust bowls.
1. Murky: having an often intentionally veiled or uncertain meaning
Synonyms: ambiguous, arcane, cryptic, dark, deep, Delphic, double-edged, elliptical (or elliptic), enigmatic (also enigmatical), equivocal, fuliginous, inscrutable, obscure, mysterious, mystic, nebulous, occult, opaque
Antonyms: accessible, clear, nonambiguous, obvious, plain, unambiguous, unequivocal, appreciable, palpable, tangible, visible
2. Fragile: easily injured without careful handling
Synonyms: delicate, tender, frail, sensitive
Antonyms: tough, infrangible, nonbreakable, unbreakable, hardened, inured, strengthened, tempered, toughened
3. Rapacious: having or marked by an eager and often selfish desire especially for material possessions
Synonyms: acquisitive, avaricious, avid, coveting, covetous, grabby, grasping, mercenary, moneygrubbing, greedy
Antonyms: altruistic, bounteous, bountiful, charitable, freehanded, generous, greathearted, handsome, liberal, magnanimous, munificent, openhanded, openhearted, selfless, unselfish, unsparing
4. Inexplicably: impossible to explain
Synonyms: inexplainable, unaccountable, unexplainable
Antonyms: accountable, explainable, explicable
5. Hastily: With excessive speed or urgency; hurriedly.
Synonyms: quickly, hurriedly, in a hurry, fast, swiftly, rapidly, speedily, briskly, expeditiously, without delay, post-haste, at high speed, at full speed, with all speed, at full tilt, at the speed of light, as fast as possible, with all possible haste, like a whirlwind, like an arrow from a bow, at breakneck speed, as fast as one’s legs can carry one, at a run, at a gallop, hotfoot, on the double
Antonyms: slow, slowly, laggardly, lingeringly, ploddingly, sluggishly, belatedly, delinquently, tardily
6. Contaminated: containing foreign or lower-grade substances
Synonyms: adulterate, adulterated, alloyed, impure, dilute, diluted, polluted, tainted, thinned, weakened
Antonyms: fine, pure, ultrapure, unadulterated, unalloyed, uncontaminated, uncut, undiluted, unmixed, unpolluted, untainted
7. Indefensible: too bad to be excused or justified
Synonyms: inexcusable, inexpiable, insupportable, unforgivable, unjustifiable, unpardonable, unwarrantable
Antonyms: defensible, excusable, forgivable, justifiable, pardonable, venial
8. Abeyance: a state of temporary inactivity
Synonyms: cold storage, deep freeze, doldrums, dormancy, holding pattern, latency, moratorium, quiescence, suspended animation, suspense, suspension
Antonyms: continuance, continuation, recommencement, renewal, resumption, resuscitation
Back together: on Germany coalition deal
A coalition between the Social and Christian Democrats is in Germany’s larger interests
The decision of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to form a new coalition (गठबंधन) government is no surprise. Since the emergence of the CDU’s Angela Merkel as German Chancellor in 2005, both have cohabited (सहवास करना) in a coalition for eight years. After the two parties registered their worst showing in the September 2017 general elections, they lost whatever little appetite remained to rule together. The SPD had declared it would stay in the opposition, rebuild the weak organisation and re-establish its core left-wing identity. The latest arrangement is a result of political pragmatism (तथ्यात्मकमा) and a willingness to accord (इच्छा) primacy to the national interest, despite ideological differences. Germany had come close to calling another election after the conservatives failed to reach an understanding with the greens and the liberals late last year. That meant a minority government was the only alternative, one that did not appeal either to Ms. Merkel or her party. Inexorably (अनवरत रूप से), there was a rethink. The process was helped by a common concern within the CDU and the SPD, namely, the risk of ceding space to the deeply eurosceptic, anti-immigrant and extreme-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which surprised everyone by winning almost 13% of the vote.
The wider implications for the European Union of the political stasis in Germany had also begun to weigh on the continent’s leaders. Some voiced the wisdom of revisiting the grand coalition proposal. The alliance now being stitched up is cause for at least some cheer, if not celebration. But there is disillusionment (आशाभंग) in both party camps that far too much has been conceded to the other party in the recent talks. The SPD has bagged six ministries, including finance. This has annoyed fiscal hawks among the conservatives, who are against Berlin loosening its purse strings to prop up ‘profligate’ eurozone member-states. The coalition’s agreement on greater spending on schools, pensions and infrastructure draws heavily upon SPD programmes. This is likely to find public favour, given Germany’s huge budget surplus and the need to boost domestic consumption. But there is a flip side to the pragmatic compromise the parties have struck to safeguard the political middle-ground. This is the risk that voices of dissent could veer to the extremes. Surveys indicate that the AfD’s vote share in September had less to do with its political appeal than with dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. In any case, the coalition is not yet a done deal. The joint programme must first be approved by SPD delegates in a party referendum. The divisions within the party over SPD leader Martin Schulz’s possible induction as Foreign Minister may forebode (पहिले से बतलाना या जानना) a turbulent time ahead.
1. Coalition: an association of persons, parties, or states for mutual assistance and protection
Synonyms: alliance, axis, bloc, block, confederacy, combination, combine, confederation, federation, league, union
2. Cohabited: Live together and have a sexual relationship without being married.
Synonyms: live together, live with, live as husband and wife, live as man and wife, live together as husband and wife, live together as man and wife, sleep with, sleep together
3. Pragmatism: willing to see things as they really are and deal with them sensibly
Synonyms: expediency, exploitation, taking advantage, machiavellianism, manoeuvring, realism, unscrupulousness
Antonyms: blue-sky, idealistic, impractical, unrealistic, utopian, visionary
4. Accord: a formal agreement between two or more nations or peoples
Synonyms: treaty, alliance, compact, convention, covenant, pact
Antonyms: conflict, disagreement, incongruence, incongruity, incongruousness
5. Inexorably: In a way that is impossible to stop or prevent.
6. Eurosceptic: A Eurosceptic is someone, especially a politician, who is opposed to closer links between Britain and the European Union.
7. Disillusionment: A feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.
8. Forebode: to show signs of a favorable or successful outcome
Synonyms: augur, bode (also forbode), promise