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Mining companies should start operations soon: Goa CM

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Source: Google images
Source: Google images
Source: Google images

Panaji: Mining companies in Goa should resume operations as soon as possible, failing which they would be compelled to commence mining, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said on Monday.

“My appeal to mine owners is that they should start mining business from this year itself. The government will give full support. If they still fail, I will order them to do so, if needed,” Parsekar said at a function organised by Vedanta Resources to mark resumption of the company’s mining operations at the Codli lease, around 50 km from Panaji.

Mining in Goa was stopped both by the state government as well as the central government in 2012 following a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam which was unearthed by a judicial commission appointed by the union mines ministry, before the Supreme Court eventually banned all mining activity in the same year and instituted a probe by its own Empowered Committee.

The ban was eventually lifted last year, but mining still could not be restarted because of pending green clearances.

From the 80-plus mining leases, which have been renewed by the state government since the ban, Vedanta Resource’s Sesa Iron ore mining company is the first outfit to restart mining operations.

Resumption of mining in Goa, Parsekar said, was akin to the arrival of the ‘Achche Din’ or ‘Good Days’ promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign.

“I feel achche din have started. After the ban, mining activities were stopped for nearly three years in Goa.

“The government tried to give some relief to truck owners by giving the (financial) packages and also mediated with banks to give some relief as far as loans were concerned. But it was not a permanent solution. Mining should start now,” Parsekar said.

“We have done all what we could to restart mining and will continue to do whatever is required. I had given a date of October to restart mining and Vedanta has surprised me by reopening two months earlier,” he said.

“I know prices of iron ore have decreased in international market and as a result the government has reduced export duty from 30 percent to 10 percent. But a businessman never stops running a business even if margin is reduced.”

Chief executive officer of Sesa Iron Ore R. Kishor Kumar, who was present at the function, said: “Due to a fall in iron ore prices in international market, doubts were raised whether mining will resume in Goa or not. We want to put end to these doubts.”

“The resumption of mining will resume employment for many mining-dependent people, the government will benefit from increased revenues and communities will be empowered,” Kumar said.

(IANS)

Next Story

The Challenges Ahead of Pramod Sawant, The New Chief Minister of Goa

Sawant also faces the tricky challenge of handling the mining ban crisis, which impacts several hinterland constituencies. He needs to address sluggishness in the administration and decision-making, which had been hampered by Parrikar's long illness. 

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Pramod Sawant
The Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hails from the Sanquelim Assembly constituency. Wikimedia Commons

A touching scene, reminiscent of an episode from the epic Ramayana played out in Goa last week after Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s death.

When his successor, Pramod Sawant, kicked-off his first day in office with a framed photograph of Parrikar placed in a chair alongside, one could draw rough parallels to the sequence in the great epic where King Bharata placed Lord Rama’s ‘padukas’ (wooden footwear) on the throne when his elder brother was banished from Ayodhya.

In Sawant’s case however, Parrikar who died on March 17 after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, isn’t coming back. And the crown of thorns, which the new Chief Minister now wears, is bound to test the abilities of the Ayurveda practitioner-turned politician, who finds himself thrust headlong into a vortex of challenges. The first test for Sawant is the clutch of elections for two Lok Sabha seats and three Assembly by-polls.

court
It has been unable to restart mining operations for a year, after the Supreme Court banned all iron ore extraction. These are just the issues which Sawant faces at home and the outdoors isn’t hunky dory either. Pixabay

The Chief Minister hails from the Sanquelim Assembly constituency, where he is on shaky grounds and engaged in a turf war with his own Minister for Health Vishwajit Rane, who defeated a municipal panel floated by Sawant last year. Sanquelim is a part of the mining belt in North Goa, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no longer sure of its footing.

It has been unable to restart mining operations for a year, after the Supreme Court banned all iron ore extraction. These are just the issues which Sawant faces at home and the outdoors isn’t hunky dory either.

Relatively young at 45, Sawant has never been a minister. Now, as Chief Minister his troubleshooting skills will be tested with battle-hardened coalition leaders like Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward. From within the party, challenges could come from Rane and Michael Lobo, who harbour aspirations of being chief minister.

Through swift moves, Sawant, on Wednesday oversaw the merger of two out of the three MGP MLAs into the BJP, thus taking the sting out of senior MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar, who was also gunning for the chief ministership. The daring midnight split in the MGP provides a new sharp dimension to Sawant’s leadership.

elections
The first test for Sawant is the clutch of elections for two Lok Sabha seats and three Assembly by-polls. Pixabay

Sawant also faces the challenges of ‘Congressisation’ within the BJP in Goa. This refers to the induction of several Congressmen in its legislative ranks in the recent past, leaving very few legislators that the RSS and the state leadership, in the absence of Parrikar, can really trust.

He is among the few Goa BJP leaders whom party workers can call their own, considering that the party has generally dithered from giving senior management responsibilities to its six Catholic MLAs.

Also Read: Study Claims, China Shifts Away From Coal-Fired Power Plants Due To Environmental Concerns

Sawant also faces the tricky challenge of handling the mining ban crisis, which impacts several hinterland constituencies. He needs to address sluggishness in the administration and decision-making, which had been hampered by Parrikar’s long illness.

Perhaps the most tricky challenge confronting the new Chief Minister would possibly come in the near future when or if Parrikar’s reluctant son and Sawant’s friend, Utpal, takes the political plunge and contests the Panaji seat, which his late father represented since 1994. With Utpal already being talked about as a Chief Minister in the making by the party cadre, whether Sawant will continue or, like King Bharata in the Ramayana, sacrifice his throne so that Parrikar’s legacy continues is perhaps a story for a new contemporary epic. (IANS)