A friend of mine from the mining business once asked me, whom, did I think was responsible for the closure of the mining business in India.
I thought over the question and my probable answer for over a day. I then reverted back to my friend with my answer.
My answer was this. The people responsible for the closure of mining in the state are the mining dependent people themselves.
Since he was from the mining business. He got upset with me.
Mining was and is the backbone of Goa’s economy.
You can moot that we should make tourism the backbone, agriculture the backbone, IT the backbone; and you would be absolutely right but for that happen, government must make those sectors strong and consistently thriving economic sectors.
Mining became a backbone of the economy after years of building itself into a strong economic activity in the state.
It saw a phenomenal boom time with the demand of iron-ore skyrocketing and along with demand, the prices too had a northward climb.
Indian entrepreneurs tend to take the proverb, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’, quite literally.
Those in the mining business decided to make hay in the sun forgetting that after the sun, comes the moon and that time you cannot make any hay.
The state watchdog, which was the government under Parrikar, Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat led governments, decided to act like a Colonel Frank Slade (A blindman character played by Al Pacino in his Oscar winning performance for ‘Scent of a woman’).
They acted like they saw nothing, therefore they did nothing.
Thus, illegal mining took off unchecked.
When others make more money than the normal accepted norm, it tickles the minds of some itchy individuals and countries.
And when they realise that someone is making money illegally, their itching is uncontrollable because they have enough reason to stop the money train.
So some activists egged on forward by politicians due to political rivalries decided to stop the money train. Some were genuine activists that care deeply for the environment.
Rightfully so, the activists had enough reason to the money-train, because the hay-makers were leaving no hay for the rest of the non-haymakers, if there was ever a need in the future.
Our natural resources of iron-ore were getting depleted and sent to the foreign shores to build their cities.
The environmental destruction due to illegal mining was vicious.
The illegal miners did not care about the environment or the future impact on Goa’s water table, landscape and healthcare of the people, they just wanted to make tons of money.
Ancillary businesses in Goa such a truck owners and barge owners started to expand their business, without even for once thinking about the fact that after day comes the night.
In the political games, spearheaded by Manohar Parrikar and Digambar Kamat, with able support from the high commands in Delhi. Mining was stopped in Goa.
Overnight hundreds of mining dependent people saw their ambitious dreams crash.
Now they are on streets with a zero future and are looking at a forced reality check, because now the fight has moved on to the idea of not allowing the making of hay at all.
The mining dependent people had put their faith in the government playing the ‘blind-man’ forever. They did not realise that just like Ayushumann Khurranna in the recent movie ‘AndhaDhun’, the government was never blind. They just conveniently decided to act blind as long as their political coffers were filled.
And since illegal mining became a serious political issue and in which the Supreme Court had to intervene, they decided to dump the blind-man act and go after the illegal miners.
So coming back to the question, who is responsible for the stoppage of the mining business in Goa. I reiterate my dear mining dependent friends, it is you completely to blame.
Unfortunately with the closure of mining, not only mining dependent people but the entire Goan economy that suffers.
I do not trust the BJP or Congress when it comes to solving the mining crisis in Goa out of sense of genuine concern but they will do it a point of time, when it would benefit them politically.
In my opinion, legal mining must be allowed to start once again in a checked manner.
We have thrown out the baby with the bathtub. Lets at least ensure that the baby has not been injured too much.