Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told the Legislative Assembly that the number of people dependent on the mining industry in the state has come down since 2012, when it first faced a ban.
He also said that the state government would take adequate steps to resume mining industry which has come to a standstill since March 16, 2018.
The chief minister said the recovery of losses caused due to illegal mining in the state between 2005 and 2012 has begun. He said Rs 300 crore have already been recovered from different mine owners, while notices have been issued to the rest as part of the recovery process.
Justice MB Shah Commission, appointed to probe illegal mining, in its report had quantified the total illegal extraction of ore by miners in Goa to Rs 35,000 crore.
Congress Legislators Pratapsinh Rane, Luizinho Faleiro and independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar raised the issue about the resumption of mining operations and recovery of money from mine owners due to illegal mining activity on the floor of the House during the Question Hour.
Responding to the questions, Mr Parrikar said before the mining industry first faced a closure in 2012, its contribution to the state GDP was 17 to 18 per cent.
"There was a boom in mining activity between 2009 and 2012, due to which many people were involved in it. When it resumed in 2014-15, it contributed only five per cent to the SGDP. Considering the downfall of international iron ore prices, mining is no more as much profitable," Mr Parrikar said.
"The (number of) people dependent on the mining industry has gone down. There are 40,000 people who are dependent on this industry now," he said assuring that the government would take care of them.
"We will have to work out a solution...our target is to resume mining as soon as possible," he said.
Mr Parrikar said mining has stopped due to the order of the Supreme Court.
"I am not speaking on how fair the order is, but our efforts would be to provide a solution. I have interacted with all the stakeholders. We will also know the opinion of all the members of the legislative assembly," he said.
The chief minister said the state approaching the top court with a plea to resume the mining activity "will not give any comfortable solution".
"Even if the SC gives any solution, it would be providing relief for one or one-and-a-half year," he said.
Responding to a question by Faleiro about the recovery of the money from mine owners vis-a-vis illegal mining, Mr Parrikar said the government has already begun the process to recover the money.
"We have already recovered a certain amount and certain people have given replies to the show-cause notices, which we have analysed," he said.
"We have recovered around Rs 300 crore from different sources. 22 teams of chartered accountants sat on this and they have given a report. Based on that we have issued notices and based on that we have started the procedure to recover money," he said.
BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral told the House that the SC has stopped only 88 mining leases while rest of them (mining leases) can still be functional.
"The file for activation of these leases is pending with the state government," he said.
Mr Parrikar asked Cabral to provide the list of such mining leases to him and the government would work to activate them.
The mining industry in Goa came to a standstill from March 16 this year, over a month after the Supreme Court quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in 2015.
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