A lot has been written about the hands of various local politicians in the Goa mining scam that rocked the economy of the state over the past several years but almost nothing has ever been written about the former UPA-2 Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh expect by GoaChronicle.com
The hard truth is that the gravest violation by commission or omission that led to large scale illegal mining in Goa was committed by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests under the ministerial ship of the former Prime Minister who also held the Environment portfolio.
Dr Manmohan Singh, the Former Prime Minister of India held the portfolio of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) from May 17th 2007 till May 29th 2009 – a period after A Raja and before Jairam Ramesh took over the reins of MoEF. He was assisted by two Ministers of State – Nano Narian Meena from Congress and S Raghupathy from DMK.
The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in its report had noted that pursuant to the Supreme Court order dated February 14th, 2000 in Writ Petition (Civil) No 202/1995 and subsequent orders mining, including the mining leases which were granted earlier, within the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries is prohibited.
The MoEF in view of the orders of the SC has consistently taken a stand that mining (and other non-forest uses) is not permissible within the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries. The MoEF on this regard had issued a circular dates May 4th 2001 (copy attached to the expose), advising state governments not to submit proposals for diversions of forest land in National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries without seeking prior permission of the SC. Notwithstanding the above the MoEF has granted ECs in respect of at least 19 mining leases located within the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and other sanctuaries in the state.
Interestingly the CEC had filed a report in March 30, 2009 before the SC (with regards to this buffer zone SC case) regarding the deletion of mining leases areas from the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and it stated gross misuse and abuse of the provision of law to facilitate back-door entry for mining after the permission sought by the State of Goa to exclude a large chunk of areas from Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary was rejected by SC and that such exclusion of areas from the sanctuary for mining will compromise its integrity leaving the sanctuary like a moth eaten map and will de-facto nullify the orders of the SC.
Out of the 19 mining leases that were granted ECs by the MoEF of the SC direction, 16 of the ECs were granted during the period of May 17th 2007 and May 29th 2009, when Dr Manmohan Singh held the MoEF portfolio.
The question GoaChronicle.com is raising yet again will the former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh take blame for allowing such illegalities to take place in violation of the Supreme Court order, or will this too be passed to another employee or bureaucrat in the MoEF.
More importantly will the current BJP-led government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi follow up on this violation that allowed rampant illegal mining inside the forest areas in Goa considering the current BJP government in Goa is keen to reduce the eco-sensitive buffer zones under the guise of development.