Even as the fate of the Goa legislature’s public accounts committee (PAC) report on illegal mining remained undecided on Wednesday, panel chairman and leader of the opposition Manohar Parrikar raised the issue in the assembly, saying almost half the iron ore exported from the state was illegal.
“The chief minister does not want to change the situation in the mining department and does not want to punish anyone who is guilty. A third person will infer that he is involved,” said Parrikar.
He held the state’s mining department, led by chief minister Digambar Kamat since 2000, responsible for inaction against illegal mining. “Of the 54 million tonne (of iron ore) exported this year, 30 million tonne is legal, and the rest — more than 20 million tonne — illegal,” Parrikar said.
HT has, in a series of reports, pegged the value of illegal ore at Rs3,000 crore and revealed that half the mines in Goa are illegal.
Sources in the government said the value of illegal ore exported in the last five years was Rs2,776 crore, while that of the ore extracted in violation of green and mining laws was more than Rs4,000 crore a year.
Earlier in the day, Parrikar submitted the PAC report to assembly speaker Pratapsinh Rane, who would decide if and when it would be tabled."I will go through the report and decide whether it should be tabled or not on Friday. Generally, a majority of the members should agree on the report, it’s not a one-man show," Rane said. He added he would examine the opinions of the four ruling alliance members on the panel who had refused to sign the report on Tuesday.
Parrikar, however, took the opportunity to refer to the report in the house. He said there were details in the report that established the collusion between the mines department, the Indian Bureau of Mines, the forest and environment departments and the Goa government with mining companies. He said a mine that had got environment clearance (EC) in 2008 showed excess mining as originating from old dumps. “How can there be dumps when the mine got EC only in 2008?” He criticised the forest department for allowing mines to operate even inside wildlife sanctuaries.