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Parrikar – The Mine Owners Agent

If at all there is a best example to judge the two-face of the much-hyped IITian Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar it will be his continuous ‘volte-face’ on the issue of Goa Illegal Mining Scam.

As Leader of Opposition, Parrikar had vehemently exposed, fought and inspired some people of Goa to stand-up for the injustice meted out to the state and its inhabitants due to powerful mining lobby and its illegal mining. Parrikar was along with other MLAs on Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the chief architect of the PAC Report on Illegal Mining.

His chameleon like act was instantly noticed during the Goa Assembly Session when the BJP took the reigns of governance from the Congress. On the floor of the House, he clearly stated that, “In Goa, there is no illegal mining, but irregular mining”. This came as a shock to many Parrikar supporters who have been aggressively fighting the illegal mining lobby in the state. A man who once cried hoarse about illegal mining, now, when in power, turns ‘illegal mining’ to ‘irregular mining’.

His statement yesterday at a media briefing, brings out the real Chamelion nature to the Chief Minister, who for sometime managed to fool the people of Goa as being the ‘anti-corruption’ fighter. “Those who mined the minerals during 2007-2012 didn’t know that it was illegal to do so. It was decided that it is illegal in the year 2014 (by the SC judgement)”. He made the above statement to pave way to regularise iron-ore mined during 2007-2012, which was termed ‘illegal’ by a recent Supreme Court judgment.

He further went on to elaborate at this briefing that the mining policy to be put forward by the government would work out a solution to give an opportunity to mine owners to regularise their irregular ore. This, he claims is because, he believes, people should be given an opportunity to turn their irregularity into regularity. The mining police would be a solution.

Parrikar further said that although the ore exported during 2007-2012 is estimated to be Rs 35,000 crore, the recovery of money would have to be calculated based on profits earned by mine owners and not on the value of ore mined. I want to ask Parrikar whether what profits the mine owners earned is of importance or the actual value of the iron-ore blatantly robbed of the people of Goa is important. His choice of words and subsequent action appears to be that of the ‘agent’ of the mine owners.

Since the Shah Commission report was made public till date, the effort put in by Parrikar to penalise those responsible for the Rs 35000 crore illegal mining scam amounts to almost no work in expediting the efforts to recover or punish the scamsters. Some of whom (major mining companies) have been kind enough to fund the BJP state and Lok Sabha Elections 2014. One even recently having interests in football supposedly was forced to fund the ‘Brazilian Sojourn’ of the Goa MLAs.

When advised to set-up a government-run corporation to ensure that Goa and not a few mining companies benefit from Goa’s natural resource. The IITian now reasons that for the government to set-up a corporation and run-it would a be a logistical nightmare. While one can argue that all business’s are at times nightmares whether financial or logistically, especially government run corporation. It comes as no surprise that Parrikar does not even want to walk that part of upsetting the mine-owners who have time and again opened the treasure chests to fill the coffers of Parrikar’s political war-chest.

Goa should stop hoping for any good to come out of Parrikar especially on the mining scam issue. A few non-consequential people and politicians (such as Jitendra Deshprabhu) will become targets, while main culprits the big mining companies and politicians such as former Minister for Mines Digambar Kamat or those at the Centre like the different Union Ministry of Environment (MoEF) ministers including the Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who sanctioned environmental clearance to go ahead with illegal mining.

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