Two days before he faces the state assembly over the issue of illegal mining, Goa CM Digambar Kamat told HT he is not solely responsible for mining and Central ministries are also accountable.
You have held mines department for 10 years. Will you take moral responsibility for illegal mining?
No. Mining in the state is regulated by various agencies. Each agency functions under its own laws and can take action for violations. The ministry of environment and forests is responsible for environment and forest clearances, the Indian bureau of mines prepares mining plans and the director general of mines is responsible for safety.
Your colleagues in the party are involved in the trade. How can the people expect your government to crack down on illegal mining?
Mining is the backbone of Goa’s economy. It is possible that some of my colleagues are involved in the business within the framework of law. I can’t do anything about this.
Many of mines are controlled by contractors and not lease holders. Can these contractors be held responsible for lapses?
The department has always dealt with lease holders. The contractors are not under the purview of any law.
It is alleged that you favoured politician Dinar Tarcar, known to be close to you, who controls mines through power of attorney.
In Goa, everyone knows everyone because it is a small place. I have condoned delays to mines after seeking legal opinion.
Despite a Supreme Court order in 2006, the state has allowed mines to operate within the 10 km buffer zone of wildlife sanctuaries without proper approval.
Following the order, the state had appointed a committee, which recommended different buffer zone for different sanctuaries. This report is pending before the court and the environment ministry. We are going by the conditions stipulated in the environment clearance prior to the 2006 order.
Will you resign if the PAC report holds the government responsible?