Report on illegal Goa mining presents crisis for Chief Minister

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Panaji:  A report on illegal mining in Goa will force the Congress government in the state to fight for its survival. The Congress is in power in the state with the help of Sharad Pawar's party, the NCP.

Justice MB Shah's commission, appointed to investigate mining in Goa, is ready to submit its findings to the Mining Ministry in Delhi. NDTV has exclusive access to the document -the conclusions are grim. More than 50% of all working mines in Goa are guilty of illegalities - the violations range from mining outside permissible areas to a complete disregard for environmental and wildlife clearances.  Many companies have been mining by proxy- using fronts to mine more than the quotas assigned to them.

In the report's language lies a damaging verdict of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who has served as the state's mining minister for 11 years.  "There is corruption from top to bottom," the report says., "monitoring mechanisms have collapsed."  The Shah Commission makes no excuses for why illegal mining - blatant and rampant-  has not been checked.  "The reason might be corruption," it states.

Leader of the Opposition in Goa,  BJP's Manohar Parrikar said, "...the Shah Commission report has establsihed corruption from top to bottom. I am not going to the bottom at the moment but the top should be knocked off. Digambar Kamat must be removed as the CM immediately because he has been Mining Minister for 12 years and he just can't escape the responsibility."

Mr Kamat's grip on his office has been weakening, with a faction of his own party also demanding his resignation.  When asked recently about whether he would quit, he said "It is upto God to decide." 

Goa's 122 mines - of which about 90 are operational - have been inspected by the Shah Commission since September this year. The report has strong reforms in mind. It finds that the export of iron ore- largely to hungry markets in China - has fuelled illegal mining. Last year, Goa exported about 54 million tons of iron ore. So the Commission asks that India ban the export of iron-ore till the system is corrected.

In July, the Supreme Court banned all mining in Bellary, which lies on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border, after a committee of experts found illegal mining flourishing there. 

BS Yeddyurappa, who was Chief Minister of Karnataka, was forced to resign after a report on illegal mining by the state's Lokayukta or ombdusmam indicted him along with senior ministers and bureaucrats.


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