Following an inquiry committee’s report holding the former Goa government responsible for illegal mining activities in the mineral rich state, activists now expect stern action by the newly elected BJP government led by chief minister Manohar Parrikar against those who turned a blind eye to the issue.
Justice (retd) MB Shah, who led the commission of inquiry set up by the Centre in November last year to probe illegal mining across the country, submitted its report to the Union ministry of mines on Thursday. Slamming the Congress-led Digambar Kamat government that lost its mandate earlier this month, the commission has reportedly observed that state agencies were ineffective and lax about rampant illegal mining in the state.
In a series of reports last year, HT had revealed that the public accounts committee chaired by Parrikar had said illegal mining has cost Goa Rs3,000 crore.
Soon after BJP’s win, Parrikar, the new chief minister, had told HT: “There is no need for a blanket ban. We have to check illegal units and rationalise the sector. We will appoint a Lokayukta and will let it probe everything.”
“During the election, Parrikar’s commitment was to act on the Shah commission report. If he does nothing now, people will assume that the BJP is substituting what the Congress did in the last five years,” said Claude Alvares, founder of Goa Foundation that has been fighting against the mining lobby.
Alvares added: “Even after two petitions in the high court, there is no monitoring of trucks coming out of mining leases. Until a proper system and infrastructure is put in place, there should be a ban on mining and exports.”
Another activist, Ramesh Gauns, said: “Some BJP legislators are also related to mining activities. It will be difficult for Parrikar to take immediate action. Appointing a Lokayukta to probe illegal mining will help him buy some time.”