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Goa CM Kamat involved in illegal mining? Oppn thinks so!

Last updated on: October 5, 2011 20:05 IST

Goa CM Kamat involved in illegal mining? Oppn thinks so!

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Goa Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told the state legislative assembly that it can be 'inferred' that Chief Minister Digambar Kamat might have been involved in illegal mining activities.

Parrikar, who headed the Public Accounts Committee, which extensively probed into illegal mining instances in the coastal state, said it can be inferred from Kamat's actions through the State Mines and Geology Department that he does not want to punish the guilty.

"Chief Minister (Digambar Kamat) by not opting for automation, we do infer that he does not want to punish anyone guilty. Obviously any person will draw inference that Kamat is involved in the illegalities," Parrikar said. 

However, Kamat denied the Opposition leader's allegations.

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Image: Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat

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He told the assembly, "We have not exceeded the Environment Clearance limits. Ultimately, the truth will prevail because there are records to support it."

Saying a lot of automation is required in the department of Mines and Geology, Parrikar said Rs 5 crore-Rs 10 crore should have been sought under the supplementary demands for grants for the Mines department so as to "put it in order". 

"Of the total 54 million metric ton of ore exported from Goa, only 30 million metric ton is perfectly legal," the leader of opposition said while participating in a debate over supplementary demands for grants.

"By not putting adequate infrastructure, is it government's intention that they don't want to improve the condition of mines department? The situation on the mining front can be improved only when you know online who is doing what in terms of exports," he quipped.

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Parrikar said the department needs "necessary manpower, knowledge and backup".

The former chief minister pointed out that the state government had announced it would impose green cess on the mining rejects (low-grade ore) lying in the state but it did not go ahead with it.

"In the last two years, 2.52 lakh tone dumps were generated in the state, which could have earned Rs 126 crore even if Rs 50 per tone was charged on them," he added.

Kamat, however, assured that not a single paisa in royalty would be allowed to be evaded.

"We have taken the precautions. Directions are issued to all the mining companies not to handle the dumps till state government comes out with a proper policy," said the Chief Minister, who also holds mines portfolio.

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Image: Goa Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar

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The chief minister said the state cabinet, at a recent meeting, had announced that stamp duty of Rs 1 lakh per hectare would be imposed on the mines for renewal.

Kamat also said it was port authorities' duty to ascertain that the ore shipped out was not illegally mined.

"Director of Mines and Geology does not sit in the Mormugao Port Trust and check the illegality."

Defending himself, Kamat said that he became minister in 2000, when Manohar Parrikar (now Leader of Opposition) was then chief minister.

"During the entire 10-year period, we have not issued a single mining lease, or a prospecting licence... 700 prospecting licence applications are pending."

He said it was not fair to blame the state mines and geology department for the illegal mining, as there were five agencies which regulated the sector, namely, Directorate of Mines, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Indian Bureau of Mines, Director General of Mines Safety and Pollution Control Board.



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