The first information report (FIR) has been filed on a 2011 complaint filed by activist Sudeep Tamhankar, who is now a spokesperson of the state Congress unit.
The vigilance department’s FIR names former chief ministers Digambar Kamat and Pratapsing Rane, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Prafulla Hede, and key forest and mines department officials among others for allowing Hede to conduct mining illegally at the Godoavadae Javaichem Upor and Nagonim Buroda concession, located in close proximity of the Bhagwaan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary, 70 km south east of Panaji.
“The said mine is situated in the wildlife area and the above said officials have instead of stopping the same are illegally helping Prafulla Hede to run the illegal mine,” said Tamhankar in his complaint.
Tamhankar had also asked the vigilance department to question Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in connection with the case, because the mine was also functioning when he was chief minister in 2000-01 and Kamat held the mines portfolio. Kamat subsequently joined the Congress and became chief minister in 2007.
The FIR has been filed under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act.
The Supreme Court is already hearing a case related to the illegal mining scandal here.
The court had imposed a ban on all mining activity on the heels of two similar bans by the state and the central government. Hede’s mine is one of the dozen odd concessions which will is likely to be scrapped because of its proximity to the wildlife sanctuary.
A judicial commission headed by a former SC judge has already unearthed a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam in the state.