PANAJI: To auction mining leases, the state cabinet on Wednesday appointed MSTC Ltd, a government of India enterprise. The move is expected to save the state government time, ensure transparency and avoid conflict of interest during the auctioning process. With the state government deciding to auction mining leases in a bid to resume mining activities immediately, the directorate of mines and geology has accordingly initiated steps. Many states are using MSTC Ltd’s e-auction platform and as the per Union mines ministry’s letter, MSTC Ltd has been providing a platform for auctioning coal, too. “This will save time and ensure transparency, being a government-owned agency having no conflict of interest in the auction process,” a senior officer said. MSTC Ltd will be paid a service charge of Rs 5 lakh per mineral block put up for e-bidding, irrespective of the final outcome of the e-bidding process. GST and other statutory charges on service charge as applicable will be paid extra.
Panaji: To auction mining leases, the state cabinet on Wednesday appointed MSTC Ltd, a government of India enterprise. The move is expected to save the state government time, ensure transparency and avoid conflict of interest during the auctioning process. With the state government deciding to auction mining leases in a bid to resume mining activities immediately, the directorate of mines and geology has accordingly initiated steps.Many states are using MSTC Ltd’s e-auction platform and as the per Union mines ministry’s letter, MSTC Ltd has been providing a platform for auctioning coal, too. “This will save time and ensure transparency, being a government-owned agency having no conflict of interest in the auction process,” a senior officer said.MSTC Ltd will be paid a service charge of Rs 5 lakh per mineral block put up for e-bidding, irrespective of the final outcome of the e-bidding process. GST and other statutory charges on service charge as applicable will be paid extra.
Not its beaches or scenic beauty, Goa now finds itself in the spotlight for its precarious politics defined by moments such as the defection of eight Congress MLAs to the BJP on Wednesday, effecting the merger of two-thirds of the Congress Legislature Party with the BJP for the second time in three years.Defections, mergers, and resignations are not alien to the rest of India. But, given their frequency in Goa in the last 50-plus years, few in the state were surprised by the latest episode. Here are five broad factors that influence the people of Goa, once described as “ajeeb (strange)” by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, when they choose their public representatives.Just a very large villageWhat is striking about Goa’s politics is that Assembly constituencies are small and victory margins can sometimes be in two digits. Most MLAs know the residents of their constituencies by their first name. On festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated in Goa as Chovoth or Christmas, some MLAs visit the homes of nearly all their voters to greet them personally. They make assurances in terms of securing government jobs for their constituents or helping them get various permissions for their businesses.Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who quit the BJP ahead of the Assembly election in February and contested as an Independent, said, “It is a small state with small constituencies. Where there are 25,000 to 30,000 voters, getting 10,000 can make you win. So what happens is that one can get about 4,000-5,000 votes on their goodwill or personal help that they may have extended to some people and about 5,000 to 6,000 votes can just be bought. Elections are like an investment and that is why MLAs want to be in power to recover these investments. I am not accusing all MLAs but this has been very common and it will not change until the people decide that their votes cannot be bought.”Personalities over partiesPolitical families in various parts of Goa have a tight grip on their constituencies and the voters have placed faith not on the parties that their MLAs belong to but on the individual, trusting them to get their work done. In various talukas, these families have been in power despite shifting loyalties from one party to another. Former Goa Chief Minister Pratap Singh Rane remained an undefeated Congress MLA in the Poriem seat of Sattari taluka for 45 years. But as soon as the octogenarian withdrew from the election fray before the Assembly polls this year, his daughter-in-law Deviya Rane made her political debut from Poriem as a BJP candidate and scored the highest winning margin of 13,943 in the state.Similarly, in the Tiswadi taluka of which Panaji is a part, Goa Revenue Minister Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate exerts a similar hold. He and his wife Jennifer have both been elected from the neighbouring constituencies of Panaji and Taleigao respectively on Congress tickets in the 2017 elections and a bypoll in 2019. They won this year’s Assembly polls from the BJP. Their son Rohit is the mayor of the Panaji city corporation.Double engine mattersWhile it may appear from a distance that party ideology does not seem to matter to the Goan electorate, the author of Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab politics (Strange Goa’s astonishing politics) Sandesh Prabhudesai begs to differ. “If that was the case, Michael Lobo would have never gone to the Congress. He comes from a Christian-dominated constituency, ” he said.The writer explained that Lobo’s previous victories from the BJP and that of five other Christian MLAs came at a time when the church had backed five Christian MLAs from the BJP to teach the Congress a lesson. He said, “Though the minority is about 25 per cent of the population in Goa, they are concentrated in 24 constituencies out of 40. That is more than half the constituencies. That is why even though they are a minority, they become the majority. It is a funny thing.”Prabhudesai also said that Goa had a “UT mentality”. “In 2014, the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre. In Goa, right from the beginning, the double-engine government has worked. Since it was a Union Territory (UT) before, it was dependent on the Centre. The mentality is also the UT mentality but by the time the 2022 election came, it was just not possible for the Church to support the BJP anymore. That’s the reason you’ll see many Christian MLAs of the BJP were defeated. You cannot say that the ideology does not matter anymore. For politicians, it may not matter but for the people it does,” the author said.Overlapping interests in land, businesses and politicsIn a state where tourism and, until 10 years ago, mining were the mainstays, many politicians have interests in these businesses or have been traditional landholders. Their businesses generate employment in their constituencies or in some constituencies, people may be beholden to them because they own land. Many MLAs across parties including have large interests in tourism. They own resorts and restaurants and tourism allied activities. Other MLAs are related to the mining business or allied mining activities, Prabhudesai pointed out.Religion and casteEven if the BJP is seen as a party pandering to its predominantly Hindu vote bank, the party formed its third consecutive government in a state that is still perceived as secular. While religion and caste do play a role in how elected representatives are chosen, they play out a little differently in Goa. Christian MLAs do win in seats dominated by the minority but some win even in seats dominated by Hindus like the Monserrates in Panaji and Taleigao. The Christian-dominated taluka of Salcete remains a hard turf for the BJP to break into but its Hindu MLA won a seat in the taluka this election – thanks to Opposition votes splitting three ways. But few play the religion or caste card in the election campaign.Academicians said candidates who win from various constituencies in the state generally represent the demographic of that constituency. Like a Christian candidate may win in a constituency that has a higher Christian population and similarly a Bhandari candidate may win in seats that have more Bhandari voters, but votes are never sought on those grounds.
VASCO: Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar, who joined BJP on Wednesday along with seven of his colleagues, said that he was forced to leave Congress as it failed to help grow his political career. "I have served the party for the past about 25 years. The party failed to recognise my hard work. I was expecting the GPCC president's post and leader of opposition, but the party leaders disappointed me. I was forced to leave the party amidst disappointments," Amonkar told TOI. Stating that he was always worried about developmental works in his constituency as also the employment issues facing the youth of Mormugao, Amonkar said, "These were possible only if I was in the ruling. I have gone through BJP's manifesto for Mormugao. I will see that all works listed are fulfilled." He said that he will ensure that all problems plaguing the constituency are resolved.
Panaji: PWD minister and Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral on Thursday admitted that Joel Moraes, 29, a resident of Sheldem, Curchorem, who was arrested in connection with the murder of a labourer allegedly involved in illegal sand mining recently, is his karyakarta, and assured that Moraes will not get any protection. Cabral also said he will not interfere in the police investigation. "Moraes' mother is a first-time panch. He was supposed to initially contest the panchayat elections, but as the ward was reserved, he made his mother contest. He is a karyakarta of the party. But just because he is my karyakarta, can I prevent someone from doing things? There are so many karyakartas, and I cannot have a hold over all of them. I have not instructed them to do anything in particular," Cabral said. The MLA said that there were no sand mining activities in Curchorem, but some families were extracting sand using small canoes.
Margao: After interrogating scores of people and scouring several places for any possible leads for the last 12 days, the Curchorem police are nowhere near to cracking the murder case linked to illegal sand mining.The police, besides failing to recover the firearm used by the unidentified assailant, have also been unable to establish the motive behind the murder. Yusuf Alam, 23, of Jharkhand died on the spot after he was shot at in the cover of darkness, while Mohamed Sahu, 33, was critically injured while they were engaged in extracting sand from the river bed at Bansai, Curchorem, on the intervening night of August 31 and September 1. Following the shootout, police arrested Vijay Adel, Ramdas Naik, Amey Adel, Yogesh Adel, and Vivek Naik for illegally extracting sand, all of whom were later released on bail.Police have so far interrogated scores of people having links to the illegal sand trade, but have been left clueless with the investigation showing no signs of progress. This despite a team of senior police officials drawn from various parts of the state camping in Curchorem during the initial few days after the murder, guiding the investigation. As pointed out by TOI earlier, the police failure in cracking the case is a pointer to the well-entrenched syndicates in operation in the illegal sand mining trade. Despite a court-ordered crackdown by the law enforcing authorities on the illegal sand mining trade, the gangs would operate with impunity, cocking a snook at the authorities and silencing those who opposed their activities with threats. The failure of the authorities in reining in the sand mafia only emboldened them to expand their sphere of activities leading to frequent turf wars in Curchorem and surrounding areas.
MARGAO: In February 2005, Digambar Kamat quit BJP, complaining of ghusmatmar (suffocation) within the party despite being considered the no. 2 in the Manohar Parrikar-led government. Seventeen years later-a period which includes a stint as chief minister of a Congress government for a full five-year term (2007-12), and leader of opposition in the last assembly-the veteran Congressman, claiming to be "retired hurt" for being ignored for the post of legislature party leader or party president, made a comeback to don his saffron avatar. Kamat, now 68, was among the four BJP MLAs who won the assembly elections in 1994, helping the saffron party make its debut in the state legislative assembly-Manohar Parrikar (Panaji), Shripad Naik (Madkai), and Narhari Haldankar (Valpoi) were the other three. Since then, a major part of Kamat’s political career was with Congress and he never lost an election from his Margao constituency. Kamat’s resignation from BJP in February 2005, coming as it did ahead of the crucial trial of strength in the assembly, was a body blow to Parrikar, as it led to the fall of his government. Kamat joined Congress and served as the state’s minister for power, urban development, mines, and art and culture in the Pratapsingh Rane government. After becoming the “compromise” choice for chief minister — the party was torn between Ravi Naik or Rane — Kamat steered the Congress government from 2007 to 2012. Though Kamat provided a stable government between 2007 and 2012, accusations of corruption in two high-profile cases left a blot on his political career. In February 2014, Kamat was summoned by the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining case and quizzed for almost 90 minutes. The BJP-government had filed an FIR against unknown people in the mining case. Though BJP was keen to avenge Parrikar’s “betrayal” by Kamat by wresting the Margao seat from him, a task that remained unfulfilled, Kamat’s name invariably figured whenever any attempts at defection by Congress MLAs to BJP did the rounds. He would dismiss them as “baseless rumours”. “If anybody had hurt Manoharbhai the most,” BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade had said ahead of 2022 assembly elections, “it was Digambar Kamat. And it was his resolve to defeat Digambar one day.” Aware of the resistance to his comeback moves from local party leadership, sources said Kamat leveraged his political acumen and inter-personal rapport to obtain the nod of BJP’s central leadership for the switch. Kamat, addressing his supporters outside his Malbhat-Margao house on Wednesday , alluded to just that. Attempting to counter jibes thrown at him for reneging on the loyalty pledges the Congress MLAs had made before the gods before elections, Kamat said he obtained his gods’ “approval and support” before making the latest move. Significantly, speculations were also rife during the period of Parrikar’s illness that Kamat could be the man to succeed him. As Pramod Sawant took on the CM’s mantle, Kamat had to wait for three years after Parrikar’s death to make ahomecoming. “BJP is not new to me,” Kamat told his supporters. “My voters have voted for Digambar Kamat, irrespective of my party affiliations.” As Kamat praised Modi-Shah model of development, his crowd of supporters erupted in cheers, “Bharatiya Janata Party-cha vijai aso (victory be to BJP)”. In the BJP camp, however, the silence was deafening.
The most senior of the 11 Congress MLAs in Goa, former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on Wednesday unfurled the banner of rebellion once again and looks likely to defect to the BJP along with Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and six others. This comes a week after the 68-year-old scotched rumours surrounding a visit to Delhi.A similar drama played out in Goa in July, but the Congress at the time managed to avert a disaster. But just two months later, it has suffered a 2019-style defection of two-thirds of its MLAs to the BJP. In one stroke, the pledges of loyalty that the Congress MLAs had taken in a temple, church and dargah before the Assembly elections have been rendered insincere. In April, in a rejig, the Congress made Kamat a permanent member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s top body. Kamat, who was the Leader of Opposition in the previous Assembly, was divested of any responsibilities in the state in the Congress’s bid to promote its next generation. The move came at a time when the party appointed 38-year-old Amit Patkar the president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and Michael Lobo, who joined the party ahead of the elections earlier this year, was appointed the leader of the Congress Legislature Party.Kamat, who had been at the forefront of the Congress’s activities in Goa, took a backseat after that and described himself as “retired hurt”. He continued to maintain that until recently. He said he would be back in active politics when he is better. In an interview to The Indian Express after the political drama in July, Kamat said he was “hurt” when the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Rao labelled him and Lobo “conspirators” and accused them of trying to engineer take along six other MLAs to the BJP. The Congress also filed a disqualification plea against the two that is still pending before the Speaker. After the petition was filed during the previous defection episode, Kamata said, “I stayed with the party and led it from the front. This is the reward they are giving me now by filing a disqualification petition for anti-party activities. What anti-party activities? I am not able to understand. Whatever it is I will face it. Disqualification is something my lawyers will take care of. I won’t be bothered about it. Party should find out who are the people behind this. Do they want the party to progress or do they want the party to go from bad to worse?”Kamat’s political careerKamat started his political career as a councillor of the Margao Municipal Council from 1985 to 1990. The seven-time MLA from Margao, his fortress, Kamat has oscillated between the Congress and the BJP throughout his career. His journey began in the Congress but he joined the BJP in 1994. The following year, he became MLA for the first time.In 2005, he reportedly brought down the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government before returning to the Congress. Two years later, Kamat became the “compromise” choice for the post of chief minister when the party was divided between senior leaders Ravi Naik and Pratapsingh Rane. Before becoming the CM, Kamat had served as the state’s minister for power, urban development, mines and art and culture.His record as a chief minister was, however, chequered. Kamat was accused in a case of bribery. He was booked along with Churchill Alemao, who was the Public Works Department (PWD) minister from 2007 to 2012, under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for criminal conspiracy. The case pertained to alleged kickbacks paid by US-based company Louis Berger for a consultancy contract for a project on water augmentation and sewerage pipeline. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing the PMLA case and a court has framed charges against Kamat and Alemao. Kamat also disclosed in his poll affidavit three other cases registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. However, charges have not been framed for those alleged offences.Kamat, who also served as the mining minister for 10 years, was also indicted by a judicial commission for reportedly allowing illegal mining in the state as a result of which a few individuals amassed wealth at the cost of the environment.He continued with the Congress even as it lost power and ahead of the Assembly elections this February, he was the party’s only remaining MLA of the 17 elected in 2017. He was the front-runner to be the next chief minister had the Congress returned to power, with Gundu Rao saying, “Everyone knows who will be the Chief Minister if the Congress forms the government.” But the BJP continued its uninterrupted run in power and formed the government for the third straight term.Following the defection drama in July, the Congress leadership stopped trusting Kamat and a week after the episode Sonia Gandhi, on July 17, removed Kamat as the CWC’s permanent invitee.
KERI: The karvi shrub (strobilanthes callosal) is indigenous to the Western Ghats and is usually seen growing at high altitudes. Where so far this shrub has been known to bloom in the wild only, an experimental planting has resulted in the first domesticated karvi bloom, that too on a mining dump at Velguem-Surla in Bicholim taluka. The purple flowers, which blossom once in eight years, make for a spectacular sight. In the forests of Nirankal the flowers have kept their date with their usual cycle. During the last blooming cycle, Assavari Kulkarni from Honda, Sattari, after joining the Salgaonkar mining company as a staffer, had planted a karvi shrub as an experiment on the Velguem mining dump. Not only has the domesticated karvi plant survived, its flowers have bloomed too, much to Kulkarni's delight. It also came as a surprise that the plant has bloomed at a lower altitude and in the midst of a degraded forest in the mining belt, making it a curious case for researchers. "Along with other trees and plants from which leaves or fruits are plucked to be tied to the matoli during Ganesh Chaturthi, I had also planted a few karvi shrubs. They have grown successfully and flowered. These plants are good in arresting soil erosion and studies are being done to use them for mining dump stabilisation," Kulkarni said. Karvi flowers usually bloom in September and the flowering can be witnessed till mid-October. The plant flowers only once in its lifetime and dies after blooming. "Though, I had planted the karvi at quite a lower altitude, they are growing quite healthy and its flowering has proved it has adapted to the environment quite well. This will be a breakthrough for effective soil erosion control in mining belts and other degraded areas," Kulkarni said. Velguem gets its name from the wild bamboo that is locally known as 'velu', pointing to the fact that the village was covered in forests before its ecology was completely altered by mining activities.
Panaji: Valid Environment Clearance (EC) obtained under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2006, notification can be transferred to new leaseholders to start immediate mining activities, advocate general Devidas Pangam said. He said that the state government will take a decision to auction mining leases within a fortnight.The state government had sought the advocate general’s opinion before taking a decision on auctioning of mining leases. Pangam told TOI that ECs under the EIA 1994 notification cannot be transferred. There are 35 mining leases which have ECs under the 1994 notification and 37 under the 2006 notification. Before mining came to a halt in 2012, 88 mining leases were operational. A government officer said that certain contiguous mining leases have combined ECs.A government officer said that under the 2006 notification, the state government can transfer the EC to a new leaseholder for a period of two years to ensure continuative of mining activities and that within this two-year period the mining company will have to obtain a fresh EC. A senior government officer said that under the 1994 notification, an EC is valid for five years while under the 2006 notification, an EC is valid till life of the mine or till there is new expansion.The state government is waiting for the final report from the Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) on 77 mining leases before they are selected for auctioning. MECL was asked to measure the quantity of iron ore lying in these mines. A senior government officer said that MECL has submitted a preliminary report on the mining leases but after going through the report the mines department found some discrepancies. “We have asked the MECL to reassess and submit the final report,” a senior officer said. Mining in Goa came to a halt in March 2018 following the decision of the Supreme Court to quash the second renewal of 88 mining leases. As the government is trying to start mining activities, chief minister Pramod Sawant had said that with the restarting of mining, Rs 650 crore has been projected as revenue for the year 2022-23. Goa has large deposits of iron ore (1,456 million tonne) as well as significant occurrences of other major minerals like bauxite (55 million tonne) and manganese (34 million tonne).
Panaji: Goa has asked the Union environment ministry to allow the state to carry out sand mining using traditional methods in wet river beds, environment minister Nilesh Cabral said on Wednesday. Cabral said that Goa, being a coastal state, there are no river beds that go dry during the year, and therefore the state has asked for relaxation in CRZ norms to carry out sand mining in CRZ area.“There are two types of sand extractions. One is in the CRZ area and governed by the CRZ notification of the central government. Outside CRZ, the state governs it. We are asking for sand extraction permission in the CRZ area. In the CRZ area, it is only allowed in dry river beds, which is when there is no rain and the river bed goes dry and sand can be extracted. Otherwise, sand cannot be extracted. None of our river beds go dry. This is an issue faced by all coastal states,” said Cabral.He said that at a meeting of the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) on September 1, Goa conveyed its request for amendment of CRZ notification for the coastal state.“For the last two years, NIO has been carrying out a study, which shows that formation of sandbars is taking place from both sides, due to sand coming from upstream as well as from the sea into the rivers. A meeting has been fixed on September 22 with the central ministry. We will make a representation with the NIO study carried out for the rivers of Tiracol and Chapora. The NIO study has said that traditional sand extraction methods can be used to remove sand,” said Cabral.He said that he has spoken to his counterparts in other coastal states in the country as well so that the issue of allowing sand extraction in wet river beds can be pursued with the Centre unitedly.Recently, a shootout at the site of illegal sand extraction was seen at Curchorem, in an area within the constituency of the environment minister.“We were not aware of this illegal sand extraction,” Cabral said. “If we were aware, action would have been taken. Police investigations are on. You may not be aware but the captain of ports had recently found similar illegal sand extraction and seized, cut up and sold to scrap 35 to 40 canoes being used for the activity. Mining comes under the purview of the mines department. But I am pursuing the issue related to CRZ with the Centre, which comes under the purview of the environment ministry,” Cabral said.
MARGAO: Six days after a person was killed and another seriously injured in a shootout at Curchorem, supposedly linked to illegal sand mining, Curchorem police continue to grapple in the dark. Police sources admitted that they obtained no valid clues in the probe, despite interrogating scores of people involved in illegal sand mining. Police are clueless about the identity of the assailant as also the motive for the murder. Curchorem police had initially focused on recovering the gun used in the shootout by keeping a tab on those in possession of legal arms and also on wildlife poachers in a bid to crack the case. The exercise came to a naught. Yusuf Alam, 23, from Jharkhand, died on the spot while Mohamed Sahu, 33, who was critically injured with a bullet injury, is under treatment at GMC. Following the shootout, police had arrested Vijay Adel, Ramdas Naik, Amey Adel, Yogesh Adel and Vivek Naik for illegally extracting sand, all of whom were later released on bail. A large number of migrant labourers are engaged in the illegal sand mining business along the Zuari in Curchorem and surrounding areas. Expressing disapproval over the failure of the police in cracking the case, former chairperson of Curchorem Cacora Municipal Council (CCMC), Balkrishna Hodarkar, urged them to “thwart any political pressure” and bring the culprits to justice. Hodarkar questioned the silence of Curchorem MLA and minister for environment Nilesh Cabral in the case, which he said was “baffling” and “raises suspicions.” He demanded that the chief minister strip Cabral of the environment portfolio for failing to curb illegalities in the sand mining trade.
Margao: Six days after a person was killed and another seriously injured in a shootout at Curchorem, supposedly linked to illegal sand mining, Curchorem police continue to grapple in the dark.Police sources admitted that they obtained no valid clues in the probe, despite interrogating scores of people involved in illegal sand mining. Police are clueless about the identity of the assailant as also the motive for the murder. Curchorem police had initially focused on recovering the gun used in the shootout by keeping a tab on those in possession of legal arms and also on wildlife poachers in a bid to crack the case. The exercise came to a naught.Yusuf Alam, 23, from Jharkhand, died on the spot while Mohamed Sahu, 33, who was critically injured with a bullet injury, is under treatment at GMC. Following the shootout, police had arrested Vijay Adel, Ramdas Naik, Amey Adel, Yogesh Adel and Vivek Naik for illegally extracting sand, all of whom were later released on bail. A large number of migrant labourers are engaged in the illegal sand mining business along the Zuari in Curchorem and surrounding areas.Expressing disapproval over the failure of the police in cracking the case, former chairperson of Curchorem Cacora Municipal Council (CCMC), Balkrishna Hodarkar, urged them to “thwart any political pressure” and bring the culprits to justice.Hodarkar questioned the silence of Curchorem MLA and minister for environment Nilesh Cabral in the case, which he said was “baffling” and “raises suspicions.”He demanded that the chief minister strip Cabral of the environment portfolio for failing to curb illegalities in the sand mining trade.
PANAJI: Given the decade-long ban on sand extraction and the insatiable demand for it, Goa’s construction industry finds itself facing an acute shortage of sand. From clandestine deliveries at night to exorbitant prices, the restriction on sand mining has pinched the sector. At the same time, it has compelled builders to look at cheaper and more accessible alternatives such as readymade cement bricks, gypsum, manufactured sand and even cement-less concrete. While hinting at the presence of a sand mafia, most builders say that the root of Goa’s sand shortage is the government’s failure to bring in appropriate policies for sand extraction. “Whenever an activity is not legal, then whatever is happening is illegal and for this you need some protection, you need a network. My gut feeling is that there is something underhand happening and this has definitely affected the industry,” said an industry representative, who did not wish to come on record. Builders also rued that constant intervention by activists and NGOs has also had a detrimental effect. With the state government yet to formulate policies for controlled sand mining in Goa’s rivers, it has given rise to unauthorised and rampant sand extraction. In what appears to be rivalry between two illegal sand contractors, shots were fired at three labourers who were extracting sand using a canoe at Maad, Bansai, in Curchorem. One labourer, who hails from Jharkhand, was shot dead while a second was injured. In a bid to evade police and other authorities, sand extraction begins at night and continues till the early hours of the morning. The business is lucrative with suppliers charging anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,700 per cubic meter. Speaking to TOI, a sand extractor from Usgao, Ponda said enforcement agencies also need to be paid off to look the other way when sand is being transported. “We get sand somehow. Most of it is illegal and delivered at night. There are no bills, no quality checks and the prices are through the roof,” said a builder. The price of sand varies depending on its coarseness and source. Concrete sand, pit sand and fine river sand is costlier and naturally also hard to source. Fill sand and coarse river sand are also available. A reputed builder from Margao said that in order to avoid a hassle, his construction firm has shifted to manufactured sand (M Sand) which is made by grinding gravel, granite and other stones. M Sand is also free from silt and clay, which is often found in river sand. “The construction industry needs to change the way it builds. When the government is cutting down on mining and excavation, the courts keep stepping in and NGOs keep filing petitions, the availability of raw material, not just sand, is bound to shrink. So essentially builders are now going for ACC blocks, gypsum for plastering and even cementless concrete,” said a Vasco-based civil engineer and consultant.
Panaji: Given the decade-long ban on sand extraction and the insatiable demand for it, Goa’s construction industry finds itself facing an acute shortage of sand. From clandestine deliveries at night to exorbitant prices, the restriction on sand mining has pinched the sector. At the same time, it has compelled builders to look at cheaper and more accessible alternatives such as readymade cement bricks, gypsum, manufactured sand and even cement-less concrete.While hinting at the presence of a sand mafia, most builders say that the root of Goa’s sand shortage is the government’s failure to bring in appropriate policies for sand extraction.“Whenever an activity is not legal, then whatever is happening is illegal and for this you need some protection, you need a network. My gut feeling is that there is something underhand happening and this has definitely affected the industry,” said an industry representative, who did not wish to come on record.Builders also rued that constant intervention by activists and NGOs has also had a detrimental effect. With the state government yet to formulate policies for controlled sand mining in Goa’s rivers, it has given rise to unauthorised and rampant sand extraction.In what appears to be rivalry between two illegal sand contractors, shots were fired at three labourers who were extracting sand using a canoe at Maad, Bansai, in Curchorem. One labourer, who hails from Jharkhand, was shot dead while a second was injured.In a bid to evade police and other authorities, sand extraction begins at night and continues till the early hours of the morning. The business is lucrative with suppliers charging anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,700 per cubic meter.Speaking to TOI, a sand extractor from Usgao, Ponda said enforcement agencies also need to be paid off to look the other way when sand is being transported. “We get sand somehow. Most of it is illegal and delivered at night. There are no bills, no quality checks and the prices are through the roof,” said a builder.The price of sand varies depending on its coarseness and source. Concrete sand, pit sand and fine river sand is costlier and naturally also hard to source. Fill sand and coarse river sand are also available.A reputed builder from Margao said that in order to avoid a hassle, his construction firm has shifted to manufactured sand (M Sand) which is made by grinding gravel, granite and other stones. M Sand is also free from silt and clay, which is often found in river sand.“The construction industry needs to change the way it builds. When the government is cutting down on mining and excavation, the courts keep stepping in and NGOs keep filing petitions, the availability of raw material, not just sand, is bound to shrink. So essentially builders are now going for ACC blocks, gypsum for plastering and even cementless concrete,” said a Vasco-based civil engineer and consultant.
PANAJI: With the Center initiating steps to make it mandatory for mining companies to beneficiate 80% of the freshly extracted ore, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) has stated that the beneficiation of ore should be incentivised. "We note that the intention behind the same is value addition and the need for enhanced R&D in the long run where there is a practical potential. Ideally, value addition must be incentivised," GMOEA secretary Glenn Kalavampara said, adding that Goa's mining sector had been using beneficiation plants since long to render its low grades marketable. Beneficiation of haematite ores - especially in the western sector - having much lower iron oxide content is technically challenging and less energy efficient for upgrading as compared to its magnetic counterpart, Kalavampara said. "It is also necessary to understand from other regional sectors on such possibilities elsewhere," he said. Last month, chief minister Pramod Sawant had urged the Centre to exempt the state from carrying out beneficiation of iron ore below grade 58 stating that, in Goa, beneficiation of low-grade iron ore is not economically viable and could result in poor response for the auction of mining leases. "It appears to me that the state of Goa is an unfortunate casualty in the process of ensuring viability of supply of ores to domestic steel requirements in other parts of the country," Sawant had said. The state government had informed the Union government that Goa has initiated the process of auctioning of mining leases as prescribed in the MMDR Act.
PANAJI: Referring to the rise in criminal activities reported in the state over the past few days, Goa Congress president Amit Patkar on Friday said the police have either not being working adequately or have not been allowed to work freely by chief minister Pramod Sawant. “An environment of fear and anxiety has been created over the past few days. The state has turned into a ‘jungle raj’ destination instead of a tourist destination,” Patkar told reporters. Referring to the shooting at Curchorem a few days ago, which left one person dead and another grievously injured, Patkar said the law and order situation in the state had collapsed. “Never in the past have we heard of such shooting incidents, and that too, on the eve of a festival,” he said. Claiming the police sought to divert the issue, the Congress president said five people were subsequently arrested on charges of illegal sand mining. “Why not arrest people involved in illegal sand mining across the state? Extraction of minor minerals has been banned, yet it happens,” he said. Patkar further said people who were left without work following the ban on mining, were the ones compelled to get into sand mining.
Panaji: Referring to the rise in criminal activities reported in the state over the past few days, Goa Congress president Amit Patkar on Friday said the police have either not being working adequately or have not been allowed to work freely by chief minister Pramod Sawant.“An environment of fear and anxiety has been created over the past few days. The state has turned into a ‘jungle raj’ destination instead of a tourist destination,” Patkar told reporters.Referring to the shooting at Curchorem a few days ago, which left one person dead and another grievously injured, Patkar said the law and order situation in the state had collapsed. “Never in the past have we heard of such shooting incidents, and that too, on the eve of a festival,” he said.Claiming the police sought to divert the issue, the Congress president said five people were subsequently arrested on charges of illegal sand mining. “Why not arrest people involved in illegal sand mining across the state? Extraction of minor minerals has been banned, yet it happens,” he said. Patkar further said people who were left without work following the ban on mining, were the ones compelled to get into sand mining.
Curchorem: A labourer was shot dead and another critically injured while they were illegally extracting sand at Maad-Bhansai in Curchorem on the intervening night on Wednesday and Thursday. A third labourer escaped unhurt.No arrest had been made till late on Thursday. SP Sammy Tavares told TOI that police are looking into all angles — whether any rival gang is involved in the shooting, whether it was a result of any previous enmity, or any other theory. “We cannot rule out any possibility. We are working on all theories to know the motive,” he said. Yusuf Alam, 23, from Jharkhand, died at the spot while his colleague, Mohamed Sahu, 33, who was injured with a bullet injury, was admitted to GMC. Sahu’s condition was critical, police said. As per information provided by police, the three labourers were hired by a contractor for illegal sand mining. Later police arrested Vijay Adel, Ramdas Naik, Amey Adel, Yogesh Adel and Vivek Naik for illegally extracting sand.As in the fishing sector, sand mining too has a high presence of migrant labourers from the northern and eastern states, who are mostly engaged as daily wage labourers. A police official involved in the investigation said that a police team scoured the length and breadth of the riverlet till late evening for possible clues and evidence. A scientific team was also deployed.A cop involved in the investigation said that the three labourers had probably ventured out to extract sand illegally in the middle of the night, seeking the opportunity of the festive season, and suspecting less police patrol in the area.“It was night, so it is not known who fired the shots and how many people were involved,” police said.Senior police officials visited the site during the day. SP Tavares told reporters that the body of the deceased was sent for post-mortem, and it was being investigated who all were involved in the murder. Over the past few years, the directorate of mines & geology has not issued licenses for sand mining. With the state’s real estate industry facing an acute shortage of sand, it is alleged that illegal sand mining happens rampantly in certain pockets of the state. After a petition was filed before the high court of Bombay at Goa, the court directed the DGP to submit an affidavit explaining the compliance status of his standing order to curb illegal sand mining.Last month, the high court directed state authorities to look into allegations by the Goa river sand protectors network of illegal sand mining being underway in various river basins. The DGP was also directed to inform the court of the action he proposed to take against police officials in Pernem, where illegal sand mining was done.
PANAJI: The Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) has submitted its final report on eight mining leases in Bicholim and Sattari talukas that the government has decided to auction. Of the eight, five are at Bordem in Bicholim taluka and three in Sattari, including two leases in Pissurlem and one in Poriem. The state government has tentatively finalised the mining leases in Bicholim and Sattari for auctioning. “Based on the report, the government has to take a decision on whether to auction or not,” sources said. The state government has planned to auction at least one mining lease in August. The MECL report consists of a detailed study on iron ore reserves in these mines as well as the vegetation around the leases, among others. All eight leases were operational during the Portuguese period, the sources said, adding that some of the mine owners had applied for first renewal of their leases in 1987, but did not pursue their applications. The sources added that some mines had opened, but as they were not profitable, the mine owners did not carry out any excavation. In July 2021, MECL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Directorate of mines and geology (DMG), offering integrated mineral exploration and consultancy services. The state has given the task of assessing mineral resources to MECL to finalise the mineral blocks to be auctioned and to establish the state’s mineral inventory. During the Portuguese period, Goa had 806 mining concessions. In 1987, after concessions were abolished and converted into leases, this number reduced to 595. In 1987-88 and in 2000, 438 lease holders applied for first renewal. Subsequently, 413 lease holders had applied in 2006 for a second renewal. Out of the 595 valid mining leases in Goa, the state government cancelled 252 of those holders who had not applied during the first or second renewal in 1987 and 2007. In October 2013, 119 mining leases were cancelled and another 133 in November 2013.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday directed the chairmen of both the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) to take up projects in education, health, water and sanitation, among others, in the mining belt as around Rs 248 crore has been collected under the district mineral fund.Sawant, who is chairman of the state-level monitoring committee of the DMF, reviewed the 63 projects that have already been taken up by the DMF. Of the total funds collected only 50% of the funds can be utilised to take up projects.The chief minister directed the DMFs to complete the ongoing projects and take up new projects as funds were available.“We have given approvals to some projects at the meeting,” Sawant said. Of the 63 projects taken up, 41 are in North and 22 in South Goa. Some of these are projects have already been completed, some are in the ongoing stage and others are new sanctioned projects. The state government has clarified high-priority projects and priority projects. Under high-priority projects, the DMF can take up projects in sectors like education, health, drinking water, women and child welfare, sanitation and welfare of disabled, among others.Priority projects include environment preservation, pollution control, other physical infrastructure, irrigation, energy and watershed development.The DMFs were introduced in the Mine and Minerals Development Regulation (Amendment) Act in 2015 to create a district-level entity for welfare of mining affected persons to which contribution is directly made by the holders of mineral concessions.
Keri: Villagers from several parts of Dodamarg taluka in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district have started a movement for their region’s inclusion in the Union environment ministry’s notification for ecologically sensitive areas (ESA).Notifying parts of Dodamarg, which shares its border with Goa, as ESA will help protect Colval and Terekhol rivers that flow into the state.A significant area belonging to the Western Ghats region in the Dodamarg-Sawantwadi belt has been left out from the draft notification released recently by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MOEF&CC). This is the second time that this portion of the wildlife corridor has been excluded from the notification. It was earlier left out in 2015.The village panchayats of Zolambe and Kolzar in Dodamarg and Tamboli Konshi-Dabhil and Asaniye in Sawantwadi have passed resolutions for their inclusion in the ESA list.On August 19, the Ghungurkathi Group from Adali organised an awareness drive and signature campaign at the weekly market at Dodamarg to garner support for their demand.“Dodamarg taluka is blessed with innumerable perennial streams and springs as well as a rich biodiversity. Looking at climate change and global warming, there is a need to include these forests in the ESA notification,” said Satish Lalit of the Ghungurkathi Group.The forests of Dodamarg are contiguous to Karnataka’s Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary. While Goa’s Mhadei wildlife sanctuary was included in the list of ESA villages by the 2010 Western Ghats Ecological Expert Committee headed by Madhav Gadgil, the high-level committee under Kasturirangan had excluded Dodamarg taluka.The high court of Bombay in 2013, based on a 2011 plea by Awaaz Foundation, had directed the Union environment ministry and the Maharashtra government to ensure that the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor was protected as an ESA, prohibiting mining and the red category industries and requiring them to be phased out.“Already the Dodamarg-Sawantwadi belt faces the threat of 49 proposed mining leases. Despite the ban on tree felling, forested areas have been degrading, which is affecting streams and rivers. We want a sustainable model of development, one that protects and conserves forests and wildlife,” said Sanjay Sawant of the Vanashri Foundation.In 2018, the high court once again declared the Dodamarg-Sawantwadi belt a no tree-felling zone. In 2013, the Maharashtra government formed a committee to seek local opinion on the carving out of the eco-sensitive zones in the Dodamarg-Sawantwadi belt. However, the findings of the committee were not made public.“Including the forests of Dodamarg in the ESA notification is needed for the protection of perennial sources of water that empty into the two important rivers of Colval and Terekhol flowing into Goa. If these areas are not included in the notification, along with Sawantwadi and Dodamarg, Pernem, Bicholim and Bardez talukas in Goa will have to face the brunt of ecological imbalances,” said environmental activist from Goa, Ramesh Gauns.
PANAJI: Following complaints from locals and Goa Foundation, the Goa State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (Goa-SEIAA) has sought several clarifications from MRF over the project of its plant's expansion at Usgao. The company had made an application before the Goa-SEIAA in October 2021 seeking environment clearance for the plant's expansion. Soon after, the Goa-SEIAA received a complaint from Dhatawada Usgao Citizens' Forum, their contentions supported by Goa Foundation. The Goa-SEIAA now, based on the issues raised by the complainants, has sought clarification on the total area of the plot which has been levelled so far for the construction of the new factory. "Copy of the written submission by the complainant will be supplied to the project proponent for information. The project proponent is required to submit clarification regarding the observation raised by the complainant for proposed levelling of land for construction of the factory," the Authority has said. The complainants claimed before the authority that mud from the site adjacent to the factory is being removed and dumped at an unauthorised place. The locals said they fear that the mud may run into the river. River Khandepar is a major source of drinking water. The Goa-SEIAA has sought to know the 'area of the plot that has already been levelled, the quantum of material extracted, details of each location of deposition of extracted material with survey numbers and areas'. Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation has told the Goa-SEIAA that there is ore in the extracted mud and that there is explicit provision of the Supreme Court for removal of any mining waste outside of mining area. The authority has asked MRF to clarify now whether there is iron ore present in the balance area which is yet to be levelled for the project and, if it is present, then what is the estimated quantity and mode of disposal. Earlier, the local panchayat had passed two resolutions in 2016 rejecting the expansion of the plant.
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa has directed state authorities to look into statements by Goa River Sand Protectors Network of illegal sand mining taking place, and ascertain whether sand mining is indeed being carried out at the spots indicated by it. The network also submitted to the court a picture frontpaged by TOI on Wednesday showing large heaps of illegally mined sand ready for transportation on the banks of the Mandovi in Naroa, Bicholim. It also submitted pictures by other media related to sand mining. The network submitted to the court that although sand mining has stopped at many hotspots brought to the attention of authorities over the past months, it continues at two places despite round the clock police patrolling, with some new areas cropping up where sand mining activities have been ramped up over the past few weeks. These are in Curtorim and Chandor where there is 24x7 police presence at the site. In Curtorim, the network has stated that the loading point is at Corjuem on the banks of Zuari river. At Chandor, the sand extraction is being carried out in River Kushawati near the Cotta Railway Bridge. Besides this, sand mining activities are also ongoing at Bicholim, Chorao Island, Talarna in Pernem and Revora in Bardez, the network submitted. At Bicholim, sand extraction is occurring in River Mandovi near the navigation pole. At Revora, illegal sand extraction is being carried out near the railway bridge. The GPS coordinates of the places where illegal sand extraction is taking place were submitted to the court. The network represented by Norma Alvares with Om D'Costa submitted that the illegal sand extraction activities occurring in River Chapora at Revora are in close proximity to the home of a local person, putting his property and family at great risk from the river bank collapsing. Numerous complaints have been made by the individual to authorities dated May 19, 2022, June 14, 2022 and August 4, 2022. The network requested for round the clock patrolling at Bicholim (Ponda), Chorao, Talarna and Revora as patrolling has proven to be significantly effective in reducing illegal sand mining activities. It has also sought an inquiry into how sand loading/extraction has resumed at Curtorim and Chandor despite police deployment there and should ensure that prohibition on illegal sand mining is enforced.
Panaji: Slamming state authorities yet again, the high court of Bombay at Goa has directed the secretary (mines) to inquire about non-action on the part of officials of the directorate of mines and geology (DMG) on complaints filed regarding large-scale quarrying operations at Mollem and Dharbandora.The division bench comprising Justices Mahesh Sonak and R N Laddha directed the secretary to ascertain who the director of mines was at the relevant time, when the complaints were filed, and as to why no action was taken on the complaints.“Forwarding the complaints to junior officers and not even bothering to find out whether such officers have taken any steps to prevent the unauthorised mining or quarrying hardly amounts to any serious action,” the court held.It added that the director of mines cannot simply pass the buck to assistant geologists or junior officers in his department, when the complaints were addressed to the director, who was responsible for taking action.The court further stated that the action taken thus far, as stated in the two affidavits, “appears to be cosmetic”.“However, the higher officer cannot simply make the junior officers scapegoats in a bid to escape responsibility. This is why we deem it proper to direct the secretary (mines) to look into this matter with the utmost seriousness it deserves,” the high court stated.The showcause notice issued by the director estimates that a loss of approximately Rs 1.4 crore has been caused to the state revenue due to this illegal quarrying operation in this single pit, the court was told. It observed that no action was taken to determine the loss caused or identify perpetrators in other excavations in the same area mentioned in the inspection report.“Again we repeat that at least we find it extremely difficult that none of the officers were even aware of these large-scale unauthorised mining or quarrying activities in this area. Such activities go on in broad daylight and involve transportation with trucks, excavations with heavy earth machinery and severe dust and noise pollution. Moreover, the report says such activities must have continued over the last four to five years. So this is not some one-off instance,” the court stated.“Thus, at least prima facie, either the authorities acted in dereliction of their duties if they seriously claim they were unaware of such large-scale activities, or despite being aware, they chose not to act. In either scenario, inquiry and investigations are called for at substantially higher levels. The secretary (mines) must, therefore, earnestly and dispassionately enquire into this matter, if necessary, by holding a preliminary inquiry,” the court said.
PANAJI: Even as the state government is making all efforts for the resumption of mining, the Centre's move to make it mandatory for lease holders to beneficiate 80% of ore produced in a year from low grade to high grade may force companies to rethink before they participate in auctions. Beneficiation is any process that improves the economic value of the ore. Goa has mostly produced low-grade iron ore, and most was exported, including to China and Japan. "To mandate 80% of the total mineral produced in a year by the holder of a mining lease, which is below 58% Fe grade; to be upgraded through beneficiation to produce beneficiated ore of 62% Fe grade and above," the note sent by the mines ministry to industry said. The Union government has requested players to submit their objections and suggestions, if any, before August 31 this year. Where the lessee does not maintain the minimum quantity of ore to be beneficiated as required for two successive years and fails to pay the amount so payable on such shortfall after two years, the state government may terminate such lease after giving the lessee a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Further, the state may preempt such low-grade material below 58% Fe content and may suitably dispose it off in a manner as deemed fit,” said under-secretary to the Union government Abhishek Kumar Upadhyaya. He also said that in case of shortfall in beneficiating the 80% of low-grade iron ore of below 58% Fe, which shall be assessed on a quarterly basis, the lessee shall pay to the state government an amount of royalty and premium as applicable to the iron ore lumps or fines of 62-65% grade, as the case may be, on the difference between the minimum quantity of mineral to be beneficiated in the said quarter and the quantity actually beneficiated. Reacting to the Union government’s proposal, the Goa mineral ore exporters’ association (GMOEA) secretary Glen Kalavampara said, “I feel we will need to discuss & deliberate jointly with other experts from industry outside the state on probabilities there, and to see in what manner upgradation of grades is feasible without causing environmental concerns. This appears to need a pan-India deliberation and a rather complex challenge. R&D must be welcomed, but practicality must be checked.” Recently, chief minister Pramod Sawant urged PM Narendra Modi to reduce the export duty on low-grade iron ore. The Union government had increased export duty on iron ore below 58 grade from zero to 50%.
Panaji: Union minister for coal and mines Pralhad Joshi informed the Parliament that the Goa government has initiated the process to auction off mineral blocks in Goa. He also said that the BJP-led state government in Goa has assured the Centre that it will “safeguard the welfare” of the mining-affected people.Joshi provided the information in response to a question raised by Trinamool Congress MP Luizinho Faleiro. Faleiro had asked the Centre about the efforts to restart iron ore mining in Goa.“As per the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the state governments are responsible for grant of mineral concessions through a transparent e-auction process. The government of Goa has informed that the state will explore all possibilities to safeguard the welfare of the mining affected people,” said Joshi in a written reply.He also said that the Goa government has sanctioned Rs 110.2 crore as financial relief to barge owners, mining machinery owners and truck owners. Joshi also informed Faleiro that financial relief to 6,999 truck owners amounting to Rs 147.7 crore and assistance to 2,000 mining affected unemployed workers amounting to Rs 20.9 crore has been disbursed.Asked about the Shah Commission report, which had estimated Rs 35,000 crore of loss due to illegal mining, Joshi admitted that chartered accountants have estimated a more modest Rs 352.23 crore as the total dues owed by mining companies of which an amount of Rs 80.5 crore has been recovered.
Panaji: Staring at a long-term financial abyss, Mormugao Port Authority (MPA) has decided to try and shore up its revenue streams by monetising its prime assets. The port authorities have decided to aggressively pursue the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route, offering 30-year-long term leases to interested stakeholders. In this pursuit, everything from the Deepvihar primary school to MPA hospital are up for grabs.Ever since the closure of Goa’s iron ore mining industry, Mormugao port has been under severe financial stress. Despite being classified as a major port, MPA has seen a steady decline in cargo. The Covid-19 pandemic, closure of iron ore mining, curbs imposed on coal transportation and the suspension of international cruise operations has hurt MPA significantly, port officials said.“The idea is to outsource existing premises and create new facilities through the PPP mode at the port of Mormugao,” an official said.MPA has identified 10 assets in terms of office space and vacant land, which can be monetised through 30-year concession leases. The port authorities feel that the old administrative building at harbour and the old hospital at Baina are prime locations for a water-facing resort. The existing 100-bed hospital at Sada is being offered to a private firm to setup a hospital and a medical college.Officials have also identified six plots of under-utilised land in and around the port town, which could be used to setup a freight container complex or a commercial complex.MPA has also moved to appoint a transaction adviser and financial consultant who can guide the port through the outsourcing process. The Union ministry of shipping and ports has 20 empanelled transaction advisors who have been asked to provide detailed proposals for consultancy services.“The consultants will prepare a Techno-Economic Feasibility Report and the tender documents so that the PPP partner can be selected. The consultants will then help draft the concession agreement and guide the port till signing of the concession agreement,” a senior port official said.MPA has seven cargo-handling berths, two of which are dedicated coal berths and one dedicated iron ore berth. MPA gave JSW control over berth number 6, while berth 7 is with Adani Mormugao Port Terminal Pvt Ltd (AMPTPL).The port has already set in motion plans to redevelop berth 9, 10, 11 and three barge jetties through the public-private-partnership route. While redevelopment of berth 9 and three barge jetties is expected to cost Rs 700-1,000 crore, the project to handover maintenance, operation of berths 10 and 11 is valued at Rs 100-200 crore.
PANAJI: The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) has called a meeting with the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Rs 35,000 crore Goa mining scam, to ascertain the technical manpower and equipment required to carry out the extensive survey of 59 mining leases. The survey is necessary to ascertain whether there was any manipulation in the extraction of iron ore. In a letter to the SIT, IBM said the bureau’s Nagpur headquarters wants to ascertain the total work required to conduct the survey. The SIT had written to the IBM asking it to conduct the detailed survey to ascertain whether there was actual iron ore extraction from them between 2007 and2012, and to find the approximate loss to the state exchequer. A senior official said that it has been nearly three months but there is no progress on the issue. The SIT’s letter to the IBM said that the survey it requested is “necessary for the purpose of investigation”. Police said that during the investigation, it came to light that 59 mining leases were operational between 2007 to 2012, and that the SIT wants to know whether there was really extraction from those leases, or some manipulation. The SIT completed a preliminary report of over 50% of the mining leases. In all, it is probing alleged violations in 126 mining leases. The report consists of verification of documents of mining leases, whom the leases were allotted to and who was operating them, and whether valid environment clearances were obtained. Based on this report, a final decision pertaining to the investigation will be taken by the SIT. The SIT had filed 16 first information reports (FIRs) in the illegal mining cases, of which eight have been chargesheeted, three have been closed, and three others transferred to the police stations concerned. Three other cases have been quashed by the court, a senior police officer said. Incidentally, not much progress has been made in the investigation, despite the SIT having probed the case for over six-and-a-half years now. On July 26, 2013, the mines department had filed a criminal complaint with the crime branch, seeking that criminal liability be fixed against those involved in the mining scam.
Panaji: The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) has called a meeting with the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Rs 35,000 crore Goa mining scam, to ascertain the technical manpower and equipment required to carry out the extensive survey of 59 mining leases. The survey is necessary to ascertain whether there was any manipulation in the extraction of iron ore.In a letter to the SIT, IBM said the bureau’s Nagpur headquarters wants to ascertain the total work required to conduct the survey.The SIT had written to the IBM asking it to conduct the detailed survey to ascertain whether there was actual iron ore extraction from them between 2007 and2012, and to find the approximate loss to the state exchequer.A senior official said that it has been nearly three months but there is no progress on the issue.The SIT’s letter to the IBM said that the survey it requested is “necessary for the purpose of investigation”.Police said that during the investigation, it came to light that 59 mining leases were operational between 2007 to 2012, and that the SIT wants to know whether there was really extraction from those leases, or some manipulation.The SIT completed a preliminary report of over 50% of the mining leases. In all, it is probing alleged violations in 126 mining leases.The report consists of verification of documents of mining leases, whom the leases were allotted to and who was operating them, and whether valid environment clearances were obtained. Based on this report, a final decision pertaining to the investigation will be taken by the SIT.The SIT had filed 16 first information reports (FIRs) in the illegal mining cases, of which eight have been chargesheeted, three have been closed, and three others transferred to the police stations concerned. Three other cases have been quashed by the court, a senior police officer said.Incidentally, not much progress has been made in the investigation, despite the SIT having probed the case for over six-and-a-half years now.On July 26, 2013, the mines department had filed a criminal complaint with the crime branch, seeking that criminal liability be fixed against those involved in the mining scam.
Keri: The locals of Dhabdhabo in Bicholim recently stumbled on a five- to six-metre-long tunnel triggering the interest of archaeological experts with some opining that it was excavated by the Pandavas and yet some others associating it with the 17th century Maratha ruler of the area.However, assistant archaeologist, directorate of archaeology, Varad Sabnis told TOI, “Prima facie, it appears that the tunnel might have been excavated for testing for the presence of mineral ore.”Corroborating Sabnis’ theory, a well-known historian, who preferred not to be named, told TOI that the tunnel indeed dates to the Portuguese era and showcases the ore testing methodology followed by European geologists.A senior mining engineer from Honda, Sattari, also on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the tunnel in Dhabdhabo was excavated for exploring mining interests in the area. Social activist from Sattari, Pissurlem Hanumant Parab, told TOI, “Before the introduction of mechanised mining activities, such tunnels were excavated in our village for testing for the presence of mineral ore.”
Porvorim: Opposition MLAs have demanded that henceforth, there should be longer sessions to discuss and debate on various issues in the assembly. Among the other demands voiced out during the passing of the budget were the scrapping of the three liner projects, restarting of mining, resolving the taxi issue by helping operators start their own app, uninterrupted power and water supply and that Goa should not be turned into a coal hub. Leader of opposition Michael Lobo said that the government is duty bound to provide uninterrupted water and power supply. He also said electricity infrastructure needs to be improved. On the issue of unemployment, he said the government should use the Investment Promotion Board to ensure employment for Goans. Further, he said that the chief minister should work overtime to restart mining activities in the state and that once restarted, it should not stop again as this will generate huge direct and indirect unemployment. Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai said that during the budget session he has been able to expose a “number of scams” including the restoration of Kala Academy, electricity pole advertising monopoly scam and the Goa BroadBand Network scam. He also accused the government of “passing a lot of bills at night” and being in ‘fast track’ mode on sale of all assets. Stating that people need affordable housing in Goa, Sardesai said that demand on housing was not discussed. Margao MLA Digambar Kamat said that the private forest issue is long-pending and that STs and OBCs are agitating because of reservation in assembly and higher education respectively. Kamat demanded that the government should come out with an ordinance to include sewerage in the health act. Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao said that the coastal zone management plan should be finalised and implemented. Alemao said that the state government should take austerity measures and avoid wasteful expenditure.