Uncertainty over the fate of the Goa legislature's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on illegal mining grew on Saturday with the removal of leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar as PAC chief.
Speaker of the Goa Assembly Pratapsingh Rane removed Parrikar as PAC chairman late Friday night and constituted a new committee.
He has appointed BJP legislator Vijay Pai Khot as the new PAC chairman.
Rane’s decision, which came less than 24 hours after he had refused to table the PAC report in the House, has intensified the tussle between the Congress and BJP in the state.
The BJP is yet to make up its mind on whether to allow Khot to head the panel but has decided to go public with the report which has criticised the state mines department, controlled by chief minister Digambar Kamat since the year 2000, for failing to curb illegal mining. Parrikar had presented the report to Rane on October 5.
Sources in the government said the value of illegal ore exported in the last five years was R2,776 crore.
HT has, in a series of reports, revealed that illegal mining has cost Goa R3,000 crore.
Parrikar said he would release the ‘Parrikar Accounts Committee report’, using government documents and records that are in the public domain. “I was expecting this (removal as PAC chief),” he told Hindustan Times.
It only goes to show that the Congress is in a state of panic. The chief minister is involved in illegal mining. When I say the Goa government is responsible, it is clearly Digambar Kamat (who is being referred to). Kamat must take moral responsibility as head of government and step down.”
The new PAC chief, Khot, told HT that he had not received any government circular on his appointment, and the Speaker had not consulted him before taking a decision.
The BJP will decide on whether it will accept Khot’s appointment as PAC chief at a meeting of its legislators called on October 11. “As the party was not consulted, the decision is being held back till our meeting takes place,” said Laxmikant Parsekar, state BJP president and MLA.
Voicing his unhappiness over the Speaker’s move, Parsekar said the Parrikar-led PAC was planning a probe into alleged illegalities in Goa’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the state health department.