The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) deferred the renewal of leases of 12 of the 13 iron-ore mines in Sonshi village in north Goa following protests by villagers.The Board led by State Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma had met on Friday to decide on granting leases to 39 mines, including those in Sonshi. At the meeting, GSPCB officials sought more time to prepare and submit an air quality report, based on which the leases will be renewed. The next board meeting is scheduled for May 13. The Board has also decided to defer the renewal of leases of 27 other mines until air quality in each of them is monitored.Mr. Sharma on Thursday had told The Hindu that the Board had decided to monitor the air quality in Sonshi and other mining areas before renewing the leases. Mr. Sharma said there were very few ambient air quality monitoring stations in Sonshi and the Board would request the stations run by mining companies in Sonshi to keep a check on pollution levels.Mining operations in Sonshi were stopped last week following the severe rise in air pollution in the village. Earlier, the Board had issued showcause notices to all 13 mining companies for causing significant air pollution. The Board has taken cognisance of the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court’s directive to stop mining-related traffic on Sonshi’s roads till the mining companies respond to the notices.
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