MoEF, MoM (State) collided in Illegal Mining: Shah Commission

GoaChronicle.com brings its readers yet another insight on Shah Commission report. In this expose we highlight a case of how the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Congress State Government collided with each other in allowing illegal mining…

The Original Concession of TC No 1/47 over an extent of 20 Hectares located at the Vichendrem Village of Sanguem pertained to Hiru Bombo Gaunco of Margao. Gurudas H Gauns claiming to be legal heir or successor submitted renewal application ‘Form J’ on 07/06/1995 along with application praying for condonation of delay caused in submitting Form J.

The renewal application in Form J was required to be submitted latest by 24/11/1988. The said application was delayed by more than six years. Condonation of Delay is prayed on grounds like other leaseholders that because of the application of new law and non-availability of technical persons to prepare the mining plan, Gauns could not submit Form J on time.

The Shah Panel noted (on Page 362) that on perusal of the original records of this concession it is found that Concession No 1/47 dated 06/10/1947 (T.T. 16/01/1953) has been cancelled on 06/02/1973. There is mention regarding this cancellation on a note dated 26/05/1998 of the file of the Directorate of Mines and Geology. Despite of cancellation, it is by mistake appeared in the Gazette Notification issued under the Abolition Act, 1987.

“The State Government should have taken action Under Section 4(3) of the Abolition Act to rectify mistake in the interest of the state if it is found genuine and should have been renotified for further allotment by following the process of law. This has not been done and lease was illegally made in favour of the applicant. Since 1996 to 2006 the file has been tossed from one table to another in the pretext of one issue or the other, ” noted the Shah Commission panel.

Finally, a note was put up by Shyam Sawant (Technical Assistant) dated 03/05/2007 to accord approval for first renewal with effect from 22/11/1987 to 21/11/2007 for 20 years.

The relevant part of the note is, “In view of above, the proposal to agree towards renewal of the first period effective from 22/11/1987 to 21/11/2007 and to recommend the case to the Forest Department for processing under Forest Conservation Act (FCA) is submitted for consideration and approval of the government. Similarly, it is proposed to direct the party to submit Environmental Clearance (EC).”

The same has been endorsed by the then Director of Mines, Secretary of Mines and finally approved by the Minister for Mines (Digambar Kamat) on 18/05/2007 contrary to the provisions of Section 8 (2) of the MMRD Act 1957 and Sub Rule (2) of Rule of 24 A of the MCR, 1960 prevailing at that time when application was filed and also supposed to be filed. The delay in condonation is against tje provisions of Rule 24 (8) and (9) of the MCR, 1960.

Here is the part where the Union MoEF got into the act;

The applicant has also obtained EC under MoEF Notification 2006. There were two orders for EC by MoEF; one dated 16/05/2008 and the other dated 26/05/2008. In the first EC, two specific conditions have been imposed – one EC is subjected to obtain clearance under FCA 1980 for diversion of forest land for non-forest activity and the second EC is subject to clearance under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 from the competent authority.

Here is the very shocking detail that the Shah Panel has noted that clearly raises question on the Union MoEF the report states, “Surprisingly, both the conditions put the EC have been DELETED from the EC accorded on 26/05/2008 which has been signed by PL Ahujarai.”

The report further states that the MoEF has to take action against the official who has deleted the said conditions by extending undue favor to the applicant.


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