Right to Information (RTI) activists in Goa on Monday filed a criminal complaint against Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) National Secretary Jitendra Deshprabhu and several top bureaucrats for illegal mining.
Activists Kashinath Shetye, Ketan Govekar and Pradeep Kakodkar said Deshprabhu had cheated the state government to the tune of Rs50 crore by illegally extracting ore from his mine located at Pernem in North Goa.
“We have filed a complaint against Deshprabhu for illegal mining and the chief conservator of forests, director mining, director transport and chief of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) and the local panchayats for abetting the illegal mining, by not taking action against the crime in time”, Shetye said.
The complaint comes a fortnight after Chief Minister Digambar Kamat told the Goa legislative assembly that the senior NCP leader ran an illegal mining outfit.
Kamat, also Goa’s minister for mines, told the Goa legislative assembly on 1st February that Deshprabhu has already been fined Rs1.72 crore by the state mining department for illegally extracting nearly 50,000 tonnes of iron ore.
Deshprabhu, however, has maintained that while the mine was located in his property, he was not responsible for the extraction of ore because he had leased the property to a contractor.
Illegal and unchecked mining is a sensitive issue in Goa, with civil society groups and the opposition voicing concern about the issue repeatedly. According to data submitted during the monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly, ore worth Rs4,000 crore was illegally mined and exported out of Goa to countries like China, Japan, Romania, etc.
Leader of opposition Manohar Parrikar claims that nearly 18 percent of Goa’s total 40 million tonnes mining output comprises of illegally mined ore. He has also accused Kamat and several of his cabinet ministers of being in hand-in-glove with the illegal mining lobby.