While mining companies are to be blamed for this blatant disregard for environment and welfare of the people besides huge loss on account of unaccountable illegal mining; the main culprit behind all this is none other than Chief Minister and Minister for Mines Digambar Kamat. But along with him it is important that burden of the guilt be shared with the Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar who has for many years allowed this issue to rise to such illegalities. Kamat, as you all would know, was also the Minister for Mines even in the BJP government. He has spent a total of twelve years practically owning the government mining portfolio, because of the good office he shares with the powerful mining lobby.
Today the CM says we should go after illegal mining but be careful not stop legal mining as it would render many families jobless. And I find that statement most absurd. Many will lose their livelihoods if mining – legal or illegal – is stopped and there is no denying that; but because of it we cannot continue to deplete our environmental resources and also turn away for the health issues such rampant mining is causing to people around their villages; but the most important aspect of it all is the depletion of our water resources because of mining.
Some years back the Central government decided ban the sale of Gutkhas; many lost their jobs on account of this. But it was done in the larger interest of the nation. The same rational applies here. Today, if we are going to worry about the livelihoods of truck drivers who have be transporting this illegally mined iron-ore, we will be a party to the illegal mining.
Some years back the Goa government completely stopped the prostitution dens in Baina; because it did not keep with the social norms of our state; then they did not think about the livelihoods of the sex workers; because it was in the larger interest of the state. In much the same way all ancillary services that have benefitted because of illegal mining will have to bear the brunt of being a part of illegal mining. And it is the onus of the government to find them jobs, because had the kept a check on the illegality in the first place, many would not have created their livelihoods around illegal mining.
Digambar Kamat cannot continue as the Chief Minister of Goa simply because there is absolutely no shred of doubt that he has allowed the matter of illegal mining to escalate to such proportions. It is only because of him that illegal mining has thrived and many other politicians have also made a killing out of it. If Kamat has been able to survive the successive take-over of his government, it has been because at most times the mining lobby stepped in to broker deals with the Central ministers to save his hide.
The estimated illegal mining in Goa when the Shah Commission report comes out in a few weeks will look to be over Rs 12000 crore and more.
Centre will be in a catch 22 situation as they went aggressive on Karnataka illegal mining, if they turn a blind-eye on Goa, it will open a big can of worms for them and in the plight of the current heat being faced; I am certain the Centre will be looking at an alternative to the Chief Minister, who will be asked to step down shortly, even his own party members in Goa have decided to stand back and watch the fun as Kamat’s chair starts slipping.
There is no doubt in my mind that so far since he has been the Minister for Mines for the last twelve years, he has accumulated a lot of wealth; most of which is saved in foreign bank accounts which he denied to the press. But that too will be proved false shortly.
But besides illegal mining which will nail his coffin; he has been the most inefficient Chief Minister of the state, since under him corruption in different quarters have grown exponentially. And more than an asset, he seems to be a liability to the Congress party.
I remember calling him last during the Delhi High Court Bomb Blast to get the Goa CMs reaction to this terror attack and you would be surprised on his reaction; in fact he asked me what happened in Delhi as he was not aware since he was busy with the out-going governor and the coming of the new-governor. I had called him a good 7 hours after the incident had happened. Till today while many ministers condemned the incident in the regions, Kamat did not think it was important to say anything, tell the next day, when my office called him again, he had no statement to make.
I am reminded of an incident narrated to me by my friend in the Union Finance Ministry and corroborated by my friend in the Planning Commission at the Centre; there was call for all ministers to attend the Planning Commission meeting. However, Kamat decides to abstain from it and in fact he supposedly sent the Chief Secretary to attend. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was livid on this.
The problem many at the Centre and at state-level tell me that Digambar Kamat seems to be working on a BJP agenda rather than Congress agenda which is why he seems to be more keen in getting BJP MLAs to the Congress fold then allowing committed workers in the Congress to grow. Even his old party friend Manohar Parrikar has only recently started to attack him because election is nearing, otherwise for the last three years; he has just been blowing the trumpet from his parapet.
If Digambar Kamat does not go; it will prove one thing for sure to the people; that the Congress party at the Centre is full of double-standards; it goes after Yeddyurappa in Karnataka because it is a BJP ruled state and even the Reddy brothers; but goes soft on Digambar Kamat because it is Congress-led government in Goa and the CM has been helping the coffers of the Congress party at the Centre with funds for the mining lobby.