‘Parrikar playing into hands of private mining firms’

Panaji : Chief minister Manohar Parrikar is playing to the whims of Goa’s mining magnates by rejecting a popular demand for a state-run corporation to control the mining industry, a pro-mining workers’ collective said Thursday.

Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) leader Christopher Fonseca told a press conference Thursday that the Goa government should follow the apex court’s cue from last week’s landmark judgment and take over operational mining leases from mining magnates, who allegedly oversaw a Rs.35,000-crore illegal mining scam.

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“The chief minister is playing to corporate lobby which is controlling the mining industry… No one should forget that it was the greed of these private mining companies which led to the mining ban,” said Fonseca, also the state’s top Communist Party of India-Marxist leader.

Parrikar, speaking to the media Tuesday after the Supreme Court lifted the 19-month mining ban in Goa, ruled out setting up of a government mining corporation, claiming such corporations “provide huge scope for corruption”.

He has also ducked questions about possible auctioning of the iron ore leases, considering they were classified as natural resource.

Fonseca ridiculed Parrikar’s distaste for government-run corporations.

“Does that mean the corporations which are functioning as part of his government are corrupt too? Fortunately, whether to set up a corporation or not is not in the chief minister’s hands. It is a recommendation made by the Supreme Court,” Fonseca said.

A panel of experts appointed by the apex court to study the illegal mining issue in Goa has recommended the formation of a public sector company or a mining corporation to take charge of the mining industry in Goa, in light of the large-scale illegalities carried out by overzealous private mining companies.

The Supreme Court banned mining in October 2012 while hearing a petition on large-scale illegalities in the mining sector in Goa.

A central government-appointed Justice M.B. Shah Commission has exposed a Rs.35,000-crore illegal mining scam in Goa, in which politicians, bureaucrats and mining company magnates are linked.

When the mining industry was at its peak, over 55 million tonnes of iron ore was exported from the state in 2011.