The row over former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde's insinuation that illegal mining was akin to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's dealings escalated on Tuesday with Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar calling it ‘baseless and unwarranted’ and also far from reality.
Parrikar also said that Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge, should refrain from passing such remarks on Goa because he does not know the ground reality in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader was responding to the calling attention motion moved by party legislator Nilesh Cabral expressing concern over the statement of Justice (retd) Hegde. Hegde had invoked the underworld to support his argument that those indulged in illegal mining business cannot claim compensation.
"We cannot ask illegalities to be perpetrated because some people are going to remain hungry...Frankly speaking (this is like) many people losing their jobs if Dawood Ibrahim were to be arrested," Hegde had said on Sunday objecting to the state government's financial package proposed for the people affected due to closure of mining industry.
The Supreme Court had issued an interim stay last year on extraction and transportation of ore in the state, pending inquiry by Central Empowered Committee. Parrikar said he will write to Justice Hegde telling him the logic behind the package.
"It is humbly submitted that the perception of Justice Hegde is far from reality, as a distinction needs to be made between legal and illegal mining, after conclusion of a fair inquiry following principles of natural justice by an independent commission or otherwise," Parrikar said.
"Till such time, no baseless and unwarranted judgement can be passed regarding mining activities in Goa being completely illegal," he added.
"Justice Hegde is a person with high integrity. Whatever he said was out of misunderstanding. We are giving money to those who are involved in legal mining," the chief minister told the house.
Hegde earlier had drawn flak from the Goa Mining People's Front for his remark. "We condemn the statement of Hegde equating us with Dawood Ibrahim. We are the workers who have been toiling on the mining leases to make our livelihood", according to Suhas Naik, Convenor of GMPF.
"The package is designed to benefit the truck owners and the labourers rendered jobless due to mining ban. The intention of government to launch a package was to provide some financial assistance to the families of affected persons, who can live a dignified life till resumption of mining operation and to desist dependants from taking extreme steps such as suicide, resort to crime and others," Parrikar said in a written statement that was read on the floor of the house.
The chief minister also claimed that if illegal mining had continued at the same pace in the state, it would have garnered attention of the underworld. "If the illegalities in mining had continued, it would have attracted the underworld, given the money that was involved," Parrikar said.