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Snehal Rebello, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 21, 2013
The BJP-led government in Goa has filed an affidavit asking the Supreme Court to allow iron ore mining to resume and blaming its two predecessor regimes led by the Congress for the scam in the sector. The Apex Court had imposed a total ban on mining last October. The Manohar Parrikar government also opposed any role for what it termed outside bodies in the matter, prompting green activists to accuse the chief minister of going soft on wrongdoing.

HT had in 2011 reported how the mining scam had cost the state a loss of Rs. 4,000 crore, though some estimates pegged it at Rs. 10,000 crore.

Both the Parliament-appointed justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry and the SC’s Centrally Empowered Committee have recommended a ban on 90 mining leases until requisite rules were notified. The Parrikar government’s affidavit said they had made the observations without verifying the truth.

However, Claude Alvares, petitioner and founder of Goa Foundation, a non-government organisation that has consistently highlighted illegalities in the mining sector, said: “The affidavit does not talk of illegalities by mining firms and is regularising everything that the chief minister Parrikar once termed as illegal.”

Explaining the various steps taken by the BJP government after it came to power in March 2012, the affidavit states: “The present state government has taken action to curb and control the menace of illegal mining which was rampant during the regime of the past government during the period 2006-2011 [under Congress chief minister Digambar Kamat who was also the mines minister].”

While the affidavit is silent on alleged illegalities such as excess extraction of ore from mining pits and old dumps by firms, it has pointed out alleged illegalities by various Congress politicians including Kamat and his predecessor as chief minister Pratapsingh Ran.