An Open Letter to Mr Parrikar
Having known and interacted with you at different levels in the past two years, I have come to believe that in comparison to most Goan politicians I have met, you certainly are the most intelligent, determined and dedicated; more importantly you came across as man so committed to a cause – that being the betterment of Goa; and working towards Zero-Corruption had always been your mantra even in your previous stint as Chief Minister, you tried to work towards it, but, you could only manage some success.
To me you came across as a ‘crusader’ – a man who could change Goa and people had a leader to look up to. Today, however, I see more of a ‘politician’ in you than the ‘crusader’. You might argue about political compulsions and every other excuse or blame game under the sun (a habit that you have seemed to perfect in the last seven months). But let me remind you of one fact and that fact is that the people of Goa voted the corrupt Congress out and voted for BJP (not because of their MLAs or BJP ideology) but because of the hope of a Better Goa that you gave them.
I have issue on numerous decisions you have taken now that you have become the Chief Minister which were issues that you strongly objected too when in opposition; but I want to focus on just two pertinent issues – mining and zero-corruption.
Illegal mining in Goa was an issue that you as the Leader of Opposition and I as the Editor-in-Chief of GoaChronicle.com went after aggressively to expose because it was the right thing to do; we were never against legal mining but illegal mining had to stop. It was rampant in the Congress regime and most of their ministers including the then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat could care less about the environmental degradation or loss of revenue to the government exchequer; as long as their personal coffers grew. Some of your current BJP MLAs have also dipped their beak into the plunder of our natural resources. And I agree with you that the biggest culprits were the Central Ministries, especially the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Your PAC report was an eye-opener, it should have been tabled, but political games got it buried. But for someone who has read both the Shah Commission report and the PAC report over numerous times. I cannot get over the fact that your PAC report only pegged the illegal mining loss at Rs 4000 crore in comparison to Shah Commission report pegging it Rs 34.935 crore. By any standard this is a huge discrepancy in the figures. Your answer to this difference (which came it out in the Truth vs Hype episode on NDTV) is that there is a possibility the some of the data of the Shah Commission being inaccurate because the Directorate of Mines and Geology (DMG) during your PAC report investigations was always providing different data. So if the Shah Commission report could be inaccurate in some places, then by that logic even the PAC report cannot be relied on.
But let’s keep the debate on the crucial differences of the findings of both the PAC and SC report for another editorial because both have certain glaring errors; in your PAC report you state that it is mining companies conniving with politicians and government officials are responsible for illegal mining. Besides suspending Arvind Lolieykar in the first month of taking over as CM did you make any attempt to go after the erring mining companies or politicians, you only made loud noises about doing it in the Assembly but did nothing. Your reasoning for that then was that you did not want to be seen as a vindictive politician, so you were waiting for the Shah Commission report on whose shoulders you wanted to go after the Congress politicians. Its been one-month since SC report, you have suspended some mining officials who have no-mention in the report but when questioned about the guilty politicians, you said that it was festive occasion so the Secretary of Mines, R K Verma was preoccupied and could not prepare the necessary legal action against the erring politicians mentioned in the SC report. Would you seriously like me and the rest of the people of Goa to believe in this reasoning. You have a few days back said that on or before October 10, 2012 your government will take action against the perpetrators of the loot, including the two former Chief Ministers of the Congress. So let’s see if you find the courage to do so. Because you and I both know that the former Minister for Mines (a former colleague of yours from the BJP) is responsible either by omission or commission.
Now let’s come to your decision to shut-down the mining operations in Goa. It was a good decision but not a well thought of decision. Let me explain why, your decision, is a classic case of wanting to have the cake and eat it as well. Shutting down the mines would help you score brownie points with the public who seem to be against mining (because of their perception of the environmental degradation) but by keeping the option open for transporting already mined ore and those lying in the jetties, you gave the mining companies and mining-dependent businesses the lease of business life to continue to do their business and make money. The 726 million tons of iron-ore stashed as dumps at different mines could have easily be palmed off as already mined ore. Your much hyped draft-mining policy fell a little short of a being termed of ‘Mining Dump Policy’.
Centre suspended the Environmental Clearances was done to check-mate your government; even though you tried to assure the people that it would start in 60 days, you should know better that mining in Goa will not commence for another two seasons because procuring an EC itself will take between 12-16 months. But the real truth to your changing spots came when Goa Foundation through its petition got the Supreme Court to give an order that suspended mining operations in Goa and asked the CEC to give its report in four weeks. When this happened you took credit for stopping mining and transportation of iron-ore; you even stated that ‘you are the only CM to have the courage to stop mining’. But the government’s own notification is a contradiction to your claims post the Apex Court order. In the notification transportation of already mined iron-ore and those on the jetties were permitted to be exported. And to stop the mining and especially export of the iron-ore dumps, Goa Foundation took the issue to the apex court. So how is this a vindication of your stand on illegal mining. And if it is indeed a vindication of your stand against illegal mining, it is no surprise that most in mining lobby (except of course those mining companies who wanted to monopolize mining in Goa and are the real beneficiaries of the proposed Goa Mining policy) want to have you replaced because they feel you are just like what the Opposition terms you ‘a man of U-Turns’. Even some of your own MLAs have decided to flirt with the enemy (Congress).
On the zero-corruption issue. I just have a few questions to ask; a few days ago you told your MLAs in a close door meeting that you will bring the Congress down because of the big files on corruption you have on most of their ministers, if they try to destabilize your government and that you would send most of them to jail. So are you trying to tell the people of Goa that if they don’t destabilize your government, your are not going to take them to task. If you have the files on the large scale corruption of the former ministers and current Congress MLAs are you using that to blackmail them into silence while they get away with crimes such as the PWD scam, Airport Land Expansion Scam, SEZ Scam, Power Scam and many more.
That’s why I said right at the onset of this letter, the ‘crusader’ in you appears to be dying and the politician in you is emerging. This however, will not work to your benefit and but will be the cause of your downfall.
My earnest appeal to you, let Goa through your government lead the way in the fight against corruption. All over the country the citizens are losing faith the political class. But you are in a position to change that in Goa and make our state an example of good governance. Put the guilty behind bars, no political compulsion is greater to than the political compulsion that comes from the people who have voted for you and your government hoping for a Better Goa. Because they have the power to vote you and your government out and the people of Goa have proved it by voting most of the corrupt Congress ministers out.