Panaji, Aug 23 :
The Congress Saturday accused Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of defying Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi by choosing to renew 27 iron ore mining leases, instead of auctioning them as promised in Modi’s Lok Sabha election manifesto.
Addressing a press conference in the state Congress headquarters here, party spokesperson Durgadas Kamat also accused the BJP of scaling down the illegal mining scam from Rs.25,000 crore to Rs.3,000 crore.
“We congratulate Parrikar on becoming the first BJP chief minister to actually defy a promise made by our Prime Minister Modi in his election manifesto.
“While Modi is rightly rooting for auctioning of mining resources, so that the state gets more revenue, Parrikar has gone on record saying he prefers renewing the leases to the same mine owners,” Kamat said.
Parrikar, while stating that renewal was a preferred option for the state government as far as a batch of 27 mines leases is concerned, he had argued that auctioning, which the BJP’s national manifesto roots for, would attract the national mining mafia into Goa.
“…inviting unknown business interest, who are often referred to as mining mafia, to carry out and undertake mining activities causing risk and danger to the several areas including ecological factors,” Parrikar had told the Goa legislative assembly earlier this week.
Pressing on with the renewal of leases route, Parrikar also cited an Aug 13, 2014, order of the Bombay High Court bench in Goa, which directs the state to renew mining leases of 27 companies, which have paid requisite stamp duty to the state treasury, after the Supreme Court ban came into force.
Some days back Parrikar also said the 27 mining lease holders had trusted the government during a financial crisis, which followed the ban on mining and that the state government would not appeal against the High Court order.
“The state government’s decision to not appeal against the High Court order is very fishy. This government is in league with the 27 mining lease holders.
“The BJP in Goa is against the principle of getting more money for the state from the natural resources. This is clear defiance of the principle’s which the prime minister repeatedly advocates,” Kamat said.
The spokesperson also said some years back, when illegal mining was at its peak, the top BJP leaders from Goa as well as then party president Nitin Gadkari had presented a written complaint to the president Pratibha Patil, which had pegged Goa’s illegal mining scam at Rs.25,000 crore.
“Why is the chief minister underplaying the scam from from Rs.25,000 crore to Rs.3,000 crore. What has happened to the missing Rs.22,000 crore. Where has it gone?” Kamat said.
After suffering an apex court ban on mining from September 2012 to April 2013, the state government is in the process of restarting the industry, which has also been indicted of a Rs.35,000 crore scam according to the Justice M.B. Shah Commission of Enquiry.
The Commission has also recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the illegalities in the Goa mining scam, which he says has been carried out by a nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and mining magnates.