Edit Corner

Mr Parrikar when can we see ‘Jail Birds’ and ‘Recovery’

I do not know your game plan on the mining issue and neither am I questioning your integrity. I am just a scribe who spent a considerable time investigating and exposing illegal mining in the state. Our data and research was also appreciated by the Shah Commission team and you know this fact as well and even complemented my team on our job especially when we put up the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report – you were surprised how we got a copy of it.

We on our part believed that as a ‘anti-corruption and anti-illegal mining crusader’, you would penalize the culprits and put most of them behind bars including mining barons, overnight ‘crore-pati’ traders and senior politicians. But we do not see anything of that sort happening to the culprits of the ‘Rs 35000 crore’ illegal mining scam, especially at a time when all the data of the illegal mining is at your disposal more than even the Shah Commission team.

You stopped mining and took credit for it, which you have all the right too; however, even this was done rather questionably wherein in the government notification you allowed transportation of already mined iron-ore or those lying at jetties (this of course was keeping in mind the vast resources of mining dumps 726 million tons to be precise). To show your government its place in the national scheme of political power-play, Union Minister for Environment Jayanti Natarajan cancelled all the Environmental Clearances (EC) bringing mining operations to a further stoppage. Seeing that in the political power-play the real culprits would go scot-free and illegal mining of dumps would continue Goa Foundation’s Claude Alvares took the matter to the Apex Court, and Supreme Court took a stand to stop all mining activities, including transportation of iron-ore. So now the entire mining business in the state has come to a stand-still – legal and illegal mining. And whether the environmentalists accept it or not, the mining sector closure has had its effect on Goa’s economy. This is because we made our economy dependent on mining and never focused on the development of other growth driven sectors like tourism, education, health-care or agriculture.

Interestingly though since the shutdown of mining, your government in the state and Congress at the Centre are endeavoring arduously to give packages to the mining-dependent people including the barge-owners. While I can understand the humanitarian side of the efforts to give them packages of the state and central governments, what has been the contribution to the state or central coffers by the mining-dependent people and barge-owners in a sector in which according to the Shah Commission report 95 per cent was illegal.

The funny part of this entire episode is that your government put one lock on the business, Congress at the Centre put another lock on the business and finally the Supreme Court put yet another lock on this business. But while you all have put the locks and are now spending time appeasing those affected by the ‘locks’ and even trying to open the locks in various clandestine meetings, you have forgotten one of the most obvious facts of the highly competitive ‘iron-ore’ global business market the ‘customer’. Having interacted with some large Japanese and Chinese firms who have been doing business with some large firms in Goa, they have started looking and sourcing its requirement out of Goa. So now, even after all the noises over legal and illegal mining – first shutdown and now restarting –  the end result is that the business of mining in the state for time-being is over and that too for a good twenty-four months more at least.

While I can understand the political play behind not going after the senior politicians at the State and Centre – its what I like to call ‘The Damocles Sword’ syndrome. I am wondering if you gave a serious thought to ‘The Brutus Dagger’ syndrome which over the last couple of months have seeped into even some of your most trusted colleagues in the party and even some of your most strongest supporters in the mining lobby. This is being played simply because to everyone on this issue especially the mining lobby and your own MLAs, you are the responsible for the shutting down of mining in totality because of your knee-jerk reaction. And while the action to stop can be considered to be courageous, your lack of action against the culprits leaves a dampening effect on the entire action of the stoppage of mining.

Another important aspect that I find strange is that much newsprint has been wasted on highlighting the effect of the shutdown of mining in Goa, so much so that the actual issue ‘The Goa Illegal Mining Scam Recovery’ has been quietly brushed aside. And while I agree with you and others who say that without mining to government coffers are running a dry. I am wondering why is that money ‘35000 crore’ to be more precise earning more revenue for the illegal mining scamsters stashed in various accounts in India and globally, while our government is virtually and slowly getting more dependent on the Centre for loans. Just what has the Khandeparkar Committee done since its appointment.

You might argue saying the matter is in Supreme Court, but, where is it specified that you cannot take action against the illegal mining scamsters. More importantly, you have a couple of times questioned the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on the mining issue in relation to certain rights of the state government. So why is there a delay on recovering what rightfully belongs to the people of our state.

Illegal mining only made the miners, traders, politicians at State and Centre wealthy. Goa earned pittance from all the excavation of our national resources. Centre robbed from us and gave Goa us crumbs of the legal mining tax and royalty receipts, since 35000 crore of illegal mining was not known at all.

The FIR filed by the Department of Mines & Geology while it has come after much time, I am wondering, why would you even bother the Director to file the FIR, when it fails to focus on the real scamsters of the illegal mining scam.

You once told me that you wanted people to remember you for your contribution to the economic growth of the state. I am saying when you are fighting a vicious battle with daggers drawn from all sides aimed at you, even from within your own team; would it not be wise to do the one-thing that is to not chose from the lesser evil but to chose the right path ‘put the scamsters behind jail and recover the money’. Your greatest strength was the belief that the people of Goa had in you to deliver a government with clean governance. The mining issue was an issue that allured people to your vision and mission of clean governance. If you have the people with you, even if the mining lobby or other such players try to pull you down, the people will lift you up again. So what’s stopping you Mr Parrikar! I am surprised that even after a year, I have to write an almost similar edit wondering whether you will ever act against the real illegal mining scamsters.

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