Panaji, Feb 1 (IANS) In what could have the makings of a major mining scam, opposition and ruling legislators in Goa Tuesday said that Rs.200 crore worth iron ore was exported out of the state without paying the mandatory royalty.
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who is also minister for mines, has assured the legislators that all issues related to evasion of royalty would be examined by the mining department.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Damodar Naik, quoting documents placed in the state assembly, said the state had lost Rs.200 crore in royalty from the iron ore illegally exported.
“If you calculate 10 percent royalty on the ore, that means the state has lost Rs.200 crore which could have been earned as a royalty from the ore export out of Goa,” Naik said.
Former deputy chief minister and Congress legislator Dayanand Narvekar also took the government to task over evasion of royalty, which he said was done in collusion with government officials.
“Out of nearly 100 mines, 75 mines do not have water and air sanctions. The Goa Pollution Control Board had asked the clarification from the forest department, which has been held back for the last one year,” Narvekar alleged, adding that the state government was not serious about tackling the scourge of illegal mining.
Speaking on the issue, Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar said that mining department officials and the forest department were in collusion with the illegal mining mafia.
He also said that if legislators could not curb illegal mining, then it was time for all of them to go home.
“If we can’t stop illegal mining, we as legislators should go home. People in the rural areas are frustrated over the dust pollution due to mining,” Parrikar said.
Responding to the volley of questions, Kamat said that 287 cases have been assessed for royalty evasion and Rs.9.48 crore had been recovered from the guilty parties.
The Congress-led coalition government, especially Kamat and several cabinet ministers have been accused by the opposition of sheltering the illegal mining mafia operating in the state.