LETTER TO CHIEF MINISTER OF GOA
Mr. Manohar Parrikar
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa
Dear Mr. Parrikar,
We the People of Goa have so far waited patiently for the Shah Commission Report to be made officially public. Our patience is over and so is the wait, now that the report has been tabled in Parliament. There are no more excuses for delaying the process of justice, which should be set in motion immediately.
We the People of Goa expect you to act immediately within your powers as Chief Minister, to start cleaning up Goa from mining, now that illegalities in mining operations have been investigated and exposed by the Shah Commission.
This is your chance to walk the talk of “ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION” - the entire mining industry and everyone involved with it in all capacities, from top to bottom, proved to be corrupt one way or the other and no longer worthy of our trust or tolerance.
We the People of Goa now expect you to prove your mettle, and act decisively, without hesitation and U-turns.
Given the generalised and systemic illegalities, scams and corruption that reigned within the industry, and given the theft of vast sums of money from Goa State coffers, none of the mine lease owners and operators in Goa are trustworthy, all are devoid of integrity, and as far we are concerned lost the moral rights to hold licenses to mine in Goa. It is obvious also that the government of Goa has no capacity to deal with and supervise private mining operators whose modus operandi leaves much to be desired.
We the People of Goa think enough is enough, and demand that the Shah Commission’s recommendations are implemented forthwith.
As further guidelines for action, we also wish to take this opportunity to declare that we fully endorse the following recommendations that have been submitted recently to your government by a group of concerned citizens led by Goa Foundation, regarding the new Mining Policy for Goa:
1) As per the Constitution, sub-soil minerals are the property of the State of Goa. If these iron ore assets are extracted, then the highest value needs to be generated from them since the cost is also huge. Further, the money generated needs to be used towards creation of fresh assets so that the overall wealth of the State of Goa increases as a result of these mineral assets.
2) In view of considerable environmental damage already done by mining to the ecological endowments of the State, and in view of inability of the government to deal with private actors in mining operations, all mining leases shall be terminated and reassigned to a government corporation after being cancelled under Section 4A of the MMDR Act, 1957. At no time will the government corporation extract more than 10 million tonnes per annum. Mining being incompatible with Goa’s ecology will be brought to a complete halt by the year 2021. No lease shall be renewed. No new lease shall be granted.
3) Till the nationalisation process is completed, these assets should be auctioned for limited periods to maximize value to the state, after geological data is collected by the state.
4) As a corollary, any illegal mining is theft from the State of Goa, and should be prosecuted as such.
5) As a corollary, money generated from mining should be invested (and not frittered away in subsidies). The most important use is to restore services that may be destroyed by mining, such as water filtration and storage and forest services. Of almost equal priority is to mitigate impacts on the environment, from health impacts all the way to carbon generation.
6) After this, an obvious use is to reduce the State government debt. Other options are to spend on education, entrepreneurship, promote sustainable industries. Ideally, we can do all three in a coordinated fashion through education-industry clusters (eco-tourism, heritage tourism, biopharmaceuticals).
7) All mines in the Selaulim reservoir catchment to be closed forthwith.
8) All mines within a 5 km radius of the boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks and within wildlife corridor areas to be closed forthwith.
9) Government will appoint an advisory panel to advise on how to restore the colossal damages done to the environment by mining in different areas of Goa.
10) Government will compute the costs of damage done to the environment of Goa and demand the necessary compensation from the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association and its members.
11) Government will compute the costs of damage to the health of persons residing in the mining areas and along mining roads and demand the necessary damages from the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association and its members.
12) Government will communicate to the Environment Ministry that no further applications for mining leases and mining operations shall be entertained from the State of Goa. All applications for mining and prospecting operations shall be disposed of as rejected.
13) Many methods of illegalities have been exposed in the Karnataka LokAyuktha and the PAC reports. Further, many others have been exposed in the courts. There should be an analysis of how each of these illegalities can be controlled. The policy should state that investigation into illegalities in mining (not illegal mining only) should be included in the terms of reference to the Goa LokAyukta, as and when appointed, for the investigation into illegalities in mining.
We the People of Goa will not rest until we see justice being done.