Politicians protecting illegal mining, says Goa speaker

June 13th, 2009 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, June 13 (IANS) Local politicians have been protecting the illegal mining industry that has led to degradation of environment in Goa, Assembly Speaker Pratapsing Rane said.
“Illegal mines in Goa are protected by politicians like me. They are the ones who are cheating the government and the people of Goa,” Rane said at a workshop on sustainable development organised by the Indian Environment Association (IEA) Friday.

The mining portfolio is held by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who has been accused of sheltering the illegal mining industry that is pegged at Rs.250 crore a year.

Rane said politicians were playing godfather to criminal activists who were degrading the greens of Goa. “The illegal miners think that with political clout, they can get away with anything.”

“I know, being a speaker I am supposed to be neutral, but there is a lot of criminal activity. I am glad that the government was coming down strictly on criminal politicians,” said Rane, who hails from the mining belt in North Goa.

Rane, also former chief minister, further said tourism took over as one of the principal industries in Goa. “While mining polluted the environment, tourism was a social and a cultural pollutant.”

Illegal mining in Goa was heavily debated in the last session of the state assembly.

The directorate of mines in a recent report had admitted to nearly 40 cases of illegal mining in Goa’s mining belt located in the hinterland away from the tourist dominated beaches along the Arabian Sea.

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