Current Affairs

Goa Illegal Mining: PAC report says ‘4000 crore’, Shah Commission report says ‘35,935 crore’!

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) authored by the then Leader of Opposition and now Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had pegged the loss to the state exchequer due to illegal mining at Rs 4000 crore but interestingly the Central Government appointed inquiry into illegal mining in Goa, Shah Commission (SC) report pegs the illegal mining scam in the state at Rs 34,935 crore, which is ten-times the value investigated in the state government report. Raising one serious and incriminating question on both the PAC and SC reports – has the PAC report got its research and report correct or has it faltered in its investigations into the illegal mining scam or has deliberately down played the extent of illegal mining. And has the SC report exaggerated the extent of illegal mining in the state or given an unbiased report of the actual extent of illegal mining.

When GoaChronicle.com spoke to the Chief Minister on this issue, he stated that data provided to both the PAC and SC by the Directorate of Mines and Geology were constantly changing and not accurate in some cases, so its difficult to ascertain what is the actual extent of the illegal mining scam in Goa. Interestingly, though, during the run-up to the elections the BJP-government were openly stating that the illegal mining scam in the state was over Rs 25,000 crore, a much more close figure than the PAC reported amount.

On the other hand as indicated by analysts of the SC report, there are possibilities of some crucial errors in the SC report and one glaring point has been raised in the Action Taken Report (ATR) itself wherein the panel expressed the probability of some errors on account of the hand-held GPS systems used to map the mining area. With the mining areas being small in Goa, the probabilities of even a slight error could show a mining lease area outside its actual area, thereby making it illegal when that might not be the actual case.

CM when contacted expressed that a lot of what went into SC report was from the PAC report, but he failed to elucidate on the huge margin in computation of the illegal mining scam in Goa.

Anti-mining activists such as Claude Alvares and Ramesh Gauns opine that the author of the PAC report will certainly have vested interest to downplay the actual extent of the illegal mining scam in the state, while the SC panel appointed by the Centre is devoid of any such biases since their report is expected to presented on all mining states in the country and not just Goa. They also feel that the estimated extent of illegal mining in the state by SC report is more realistic than the one spoken about by the Chief Minister.

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