While BJP has taken the fight to the Congress over the illegal mining scam in Goa; it is shocking to note that during the period of 2001 and 2002 (when Manohar Parrikar was the Chief Minister and Digambar Kamat, Minister for Mines), the then government actually participated in allowing BJP MP Ramakant Angle to commit the illegal mining operation.
Here is what the report states from Page 366 to Page 371.
Name of the Original Concessionaire: Late Linda Belinda Simoes
Name of the person who applied for condonation of delay and renewal of lease in Form J: Ronald Simoes and subsequently, other GPAs have also made claims.
Last date of renewal application which was required to be submitted: 24/11/1988.
Application for Condonation of Delay in filing Form J for mining lease T.C No 74/59 was rejected on 26/02/2001. The order is set aside by Central Government. No decision is taken yet.
Date of filing of renewal application and application for condonation of delay: 10/11/1996. It was delayed by more than seven years.
Date of grant of delay condonation 15/04/1997 for remaining leases.
s mentioned at Page 3/N of the note sheet of the concerned file that the application dated 10/11/96 was referred to government for a suitable decision. The goverment vide letter dated 15/04/1997 has condoned the delay in submitting renewal application.
Shah Commission panel notes, “The state government has no jurisdiction and power to condone the delay when the application is not filed within the stipulated period.”
It further notes that the application for renewal of Form J was incomplete and not in accordance with the scheme of Rule 22 of MCR, 1960.
“The delay condonation was done even before any record regarding legal heir of original lessee was submitted. No record regarding succession is available in the file nor the transfer of lease as required by Rule 37 of MCR, 1960.”
Here is the most interesting bit on Page 367;
The decision to reject the request for renewal was practically taken and the order was to be communicated about the decision to the applicant on 22/02/2001, as could be seen from the notings. However, in the month of April, surprisingly, on appearance of one Shri Ramakant, claiming to be Power of Attorney holder of applicant, Ronald Simoes, the chapter is found revived in the month of April 2002.
Shah Commission panel noting is important, it states, “the state government has no jurisdiction ot statutory authority to accept and/or scrutinise the renewal application ‘Form J’ in view of provision of Rule 24A of MCR, 1960 after 24/11/1988.”
The valid clearance certificate and mining plan required under Rule 22 (3)(d) of MCR, 1960 were not produced, though the application for renewal was submitted after 7 years.
The report further states that record does not reveal that the applicant (Ronald Simoes), claiming to be legal heir, had produced any document like Succession Certificate, Will or any other documents to establish the legal heirship on the date of submitting delay of condonation application. Conveniently, the person, liable to pay Dead Rent and Surface Rent disappeared, did not pay the amount demanded. Subsequently, Virginia M Simoes approached the government and appeared in the renewal proceedings. A submission was made in the year 2004 that, “In light of the above facts, there does not appear any justification in grant the party any more time for submission of documents. The application is liable to be rejected.”
However, a fresh note was placed on 30/06/2005, stating that vide letter dated 28/06/2005, the applicant requested for a letter to submitted to Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), Goa alongwith the mining plan statting that mining leases, standing in the name of the Late Lindia B Simoes, are existing leases.
Shah panel notes, “It is inferable that under guise of pendency of renewal qpplication in Form J, the persons actually operating these mines were permitted to remain in lease areas with their activities devoid of authority. This could not have been possible unless the higher officials of the state are in hand in glove with the operators of these mines wherever applicable for the working mines.”
When the state of Goa was processing application of first renewal on 11/08/2003; Virginia M Simoes and Barbara Elizabeth Simoes filed one application to the officers of the Department of Mines, Goa informing that some of the mining leases are being operated by other persons.
It was pointed out that the leasehold area of T.C. No 10/53 was operated by Ramakant Angle. The state also noticed that the leased area of 10/53 was not in possession of Virginia M Simoes. But no action was taken.
The panel notes that, “It also emerges from the office noting in the file T.C No 74/59 that Ronald Simoes has submitted application as Power of Attorney of Virginia M Simoes alias Maria Simoes and there was one letter signed by Ramakant Angle mentioning him as Power of Attorney holder for original concessionaire Linda B Simoes. So the person in possession and actual operating of mine might have been Ramakant Angle. Director of Mines and Secretary – Mines had not taken any action. Ronald Simoes had died much prior to 26/02/2001. Even then state continues to treat him as applicant for renewal of the lease. One note is found at page 7/N of T.C. No 54/59 of the DMG file that this office was unaware of death of Ronald Simoes till 26/02/2001, as no information was received.”
Due to claims and counter claims by various GPA holders and non-availability of records of legal heir and illegal operation of the mines by Ramakant Angle, it is a matter of violation of Rule 37 of MCR, 1960. All consequential action should be taken to determine the leases.
But more importantly the Shah Panel specifies that, “The quantity of illegal extraction of ore should be assessed wherein Ramakant Angle was illegally operating the mine. A case for the offence under Section379 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) should be filed against him.
Action against lessee/unauthorised mine operator and officials of concerned department should be taken.”
Ramakant Angle shares a good equation with both BJP and Congress. And is currently Chairman of the Madgaon Urban Co-Operative Bank. At that point of time, when the BJP government was in power in 2001 and 2002, Angle was the BJP MP. It is difficult to accept that while the Director and Secretary of Mines are directly implicated, the Minister for Mines Digambar Kamat and the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar would not be aware of this. Or knowingly did the permit this to happen.
In the Shah Commission, this case is one of few cases wherein the panel actually states that the culprit (in this case Ramakant Angle) should have a case for the offence under Section 379 of IPC filed against him. Then why has the BJP-government yet filed any FIR against Angle.
The pertinent question is who is protecting Angle, since both BJP and Congress appear to have shown him support in the illegal mining operations.