Illegal mining report looms large over Goa (Goa Newsletter)

March 17th, 2012 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Panaji, March 17 (IANS) The spectre of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission report on illegal mining in India looms large over Goa.

The findings of the report, submitted to the union mines ministry Thursday, is being keenly discussed across Goa as it is expected to put a realistic figure on the extent of illegal mining with its suspected involvement cutting across the political spectrum of the state.

Political parties as well as green groups have peppered the public space with a whole range of expansive figures while describing the illegal mining scenario in Goa, ranging from a few hundred million to several thousand crores and to several million tonnes of iron ore.

The Goa portion of the report, in all likelihood, is expected to have inputs crystallised from numerous visits and inspections of illegal mining sites carried out by the Commission’s members through last year and crucial inputs from the damning report of former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde, which nailed illegal mining in neighbouring Karnataka and its links to the mining mafia in Goa.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national secretary and head of the party’s scam expose committee Kirit Somaiya has pegged the illegal mining scam in Goa at Rs.25,000 crore.

“This is the biggest illegal mining scam in India at Rs.25,000 crore in just two years. Like the 2G scam, the scam money is being routed through companies set up in tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman islands,” according to Mumbai-based Somaiya.

Somaiya has also described former chief minister Digambar Kamat, Goa Pradesh Congress committee Subhash Shirodkar and former ministers Joaquim Alemao, Vishwajeet Rane and other politicians like former Congress legislator Shyam Satardekar and former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) national secretary Jitendra Deshprabhu as being part of the illegal mining scam.

The Trinamool Congress claims it has had a peek at a copy of the Shah Commission report and that the scam is worth $423 million.

“The scam is worth $423 million. Several main candidates which the Congress fielded in these elections are a part of this scam,” state Trinamool president Wilfred de Souza claims.

De Souza now wants the findings of the illegal mining scam to be proved by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), adding he had seen a facsimile of the illegal mining report at the office of a Supreme Court lawyer recently.

Claude Alvares, a leading environmental activist, has now demanded nationalisation of the 100-odd operational mining leases in Goa, which in the financial year 2010-11 exported 54 million tonnes of ore.

“Since 2006-10, 13.47 million tonnes of ore was extracted above the permissible capacity, as specified in the Environment Clearance (EC) limits. In 2010-11, the illegal extraction figure touched the 12.24 million tonne mark…Ore is national wealth,” according to Alvares, who has been taking the battle against illegal mining to the Bombay High Court.

“The central government should nationalise the mining in Goa and let the nation enjoy the wealth, instead of private mine owners.”

Illegal mining along with promotion of dynasty politics has been one of the major issues drummed up by the BJP, then in the opposition, during the run up to the March 3 polls.

New Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar now claims he will set up an effective Lokayukta in Goa by June and that all data related to illegal mining would be handed over to the ombudsman for a probe.

“All illegal mining cases will go to the Lokayukta. Government documentation available will be enough to prosecute them,” the senior BJP leader said.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at

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