Nine months after the Goa government appointed a high-level committee chaired by retired judge of the Bombay high court justice RMS Khandeparkar to look into various aspects of mining in the state, the committee is yet to meet even once, the latest affidavit filed by Goa Foundation in the Supreme Court last week has revealed.
With the committee’s tenure expiring in November, petitioner Claude Alvares in the affidavit states that neither has any staff been appointed, nor a separate office allotted for the committee to function.
“The committee is currently functioning from the office of justice Khandeparkar, who also occupies the post of the State Police Complaints Authority. The committee has not done any work on the terms of the reference assigned to it,” read the affidavit.
Instead of appointing an independent agency to demarcate lease boundaries, the affidavit states that the government has allowed mining companies indicted by the MB Shah Commission of Inquiry and Central Empowered Committee “to demarcate their own lease boundaries so that they can protect themselves from charges of having gone beyond their boundaries in their drive to excavate ores”.
In a series of reports in 2011, HT had revealed that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had said illegal mining had cost Goa Rs3,000 crore.
Based on the recommendations of two Western Ghats committees constituted by the Union environment ministry, the affidavit told SC that 51 of the 90 operational mines must be permanently shut down, as they fall in eco-sensitive zones.
“There is compelling need for the hon’ble court to direct its own independent inquiries, since the state lacks the capacity to carry out such probes,” summed the affidavit.