Google Earth helped track illegal mining in Goa


Panaji: Google Earth satellite imagery helped the Goa assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) zero in on specific illegalities in the Rs.3,500 crore mining scam in the state, its report states.

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Operative portions of the report, which were made available to the media, also show that satellite imagery technology helped pinpoint illegal mining by small-time politician Dinar Tarcar, who contested the last assembly elections on a Congress ticket.

“The Google pictures of the year 2003 clearly show that the area was virgin land and it is not possible to agree with any fallacious contention that several million tonnes of ore dump accumulated has been done on account of earlier dumps accumulation,” it said.

This was a pointer to excesses in a mine operated by Tarcar at Tembocheo Dongor.

Tarcar, a mofussil politician who contested assembly elections only once in 2007, along with former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) national secretary Jitendra Deshprabhu, are the only two politicians named in the PAC report on illegal mining.

The report was submitted to Speaker Pratapsing Rane Wednesday during the monsoon session of the state assembly.

The report says that the state department of mines, headed by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat for the last 12 years, had completely turned a blind eye even as Tarcar’s mine extracted several million tonnes more of iron ore, in excess of the three lakh tonnes cap set according to the environmental clearance granted in 2007.

It pegged the value of the ore at a couple of thousand crore rupees in the international market at $40 per tonne.

“Why has the directorate kept quiet on the matter? Why has no action been initiated on this matter? Why are no steps being taken to immediately stop the mining operations in this mine and to suspend all mining activity and seize the ore which has been excavated in a manner unknown to law,” the PAC report questions.

Goa exported nearly 54 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal, out of which nearly seven million tonnes was allegedly extracted illegally.