An open cast iron ore mine operated by a key aide of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has been red-flagged as illegal by the Goa government, according to state Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues.
Rodrigues told the Goa assembly Wednesday that his department had filed a complaint against Prafulla Hede, the manager of the mine who is the NCP’s state coordinator and is known as a key aide of Pawar on Goa affairs.
In his written reply, the forest minister said Ramratan Vaidya, a mining manager at Hede’s mine located in Collem, near the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary, had already been booked during the course of the enquiry conducted by the forest department.
Hede’s mine is one of the 17 mining outfits which have been pulled up by the forest department for illegally mining in Goa’s forests.
The state mining department has already cracked the whip against NCP national secretary Jitendra Deshprabhu for illegal mining in Pernem, a sub-district in north Goa located 35 km from here.
‘Jitendra Deshprabhu is indulging in illegal mining activity in survey number 299/0 of Korgao village of Pernem taluka (sub-district),’ Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who has himself been accused of sheltering illegal mining, had said in the assembly in February.
Kamat, who is also minister for mines, told the winter session of the Goa assembly in February that the senior NCP functionary had already been issued a show cause notice for illegally extracting nearly 50,000 tonnes of iron ore.
‘After hearing on the submissions made by him, a demand was raised towards value of the minerals,’ Kamat said.
Deshprabhu has already been fined Rs.1.72 crore by the state mining department.
The NCP is a part of a Congress-led coalition government in the state.