Goa govt bans extraction of ore from old dumps
On a day the BJP demanded the resignation of Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat over the mining scam and Sonia Gandhi’s emissary Jagmeet Brar arrived in the state to prepare his report on the matter, the Goa government, faced with mounting criticism, started enforcing a ban on extraction of low-grade iron ore from old dumps.india Updated: Sep 28, 2011 01:42 IST
On a day the BJP demanded the resignation of Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat over the mining scam and Sonia Gandhi’s emissary Jagmeet Brar arrived in the state to prepare his report on the matter, the Goa government, faced with mounting criticism, started enforcing a ban on extraction of low-grade iron ore from old dumps.
The state had announced the ban in a circular issued to all 91 working mines in the state on Monday. The state government on Tuesday also assured the Bombay high court, on a petition filed by the NGO Goa Foundation, that it would take interim measures to curb illegal mining.
HT had on Thursday reported how mining companies had extracted 1.4 million tonnes of iron ore by just sifting through old dumps in the last one year. This was in excess of approved limits and, in a majority of cases, without mandatory clearances.
The ban on extracting ore from old dumps will now be in place until the department of mines, led by the CM himself, works out a system to check violations. Kamat has had charge of the mining department for the last 12 years.
HT was the first to report that illegal mining had cost Goa at least Rs3,000 crore, though some estimates put the figure at Rs10,000 crore. Manohar Parrikar, chairman of the Goa Assembly’s public accounts committee (PAC), which is probing the matter, had told this paper that at least half the mines in the state were illegal. HT had also reported that A Raja had, as Union environment minister, issued 169 mining clearances and that mines were operating in forest areas without the necessary approvals.
On Monday, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked Jagmeet Brar, in charge of party affairs in Goa, to submit a detailed report on the matter by Friday.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said Kamat should resign. “He has made Goa an ugly destination. A CBI inquiry should be ordered against him. A free and fair inquiry cannot be done without removing him.”