Goa CM unsure about auctioning mining leases

Goa CM unsure about auctioning mining leases

10Panaji, April 25 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Friday said he did not remember the part of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s speech where he favoured auctioning natural resources of the state.

Despite Modi’s endorsement of auctioning as the best possible mode for harvesting national resources, Parrikar, who is considered close to the Gujarat chief minister, is non-committal on auctioning Goa’s mining leases. The state is rich in iron ore.

“I do not remember Modi saying it should be auctioned…But if he has, it will be considered,” said Parrikar, who will form a policy for renewal of mining leases on the directions of the Supreme Court.

In January, Modi said he and the Gujarat government were pushing for public auctioning of natural resources in order to accrue maximum benefit but the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was against the policy and, therefore, encouraging corruption.

Parrikar, who is seen as close to the Goa mining lobby, which comprises of influential families who had been allotted mining leases by the colonial Portuguese regime, said he would be open to inputs from mining stakeholders and other sections when formulating the mining policy.

The Goa chief minister also promised a revamp of the state mining department after the general elections, when the code of conduct imposed by the Election Commission is lifted.

Parrikar said chartered accountants would be roped in by the Goa government to help crack the mining scam.

“We will need chartered accountants to investigate and assess what happened (vis-a-vis the mining scam) from 2007 to 2012. There are many kinds of illegalities, which have to be looked into,” he said.

The Supreme Court Monday lifted a 19-month ban on mining. In its judgment, the court has rendered nearly all mining leases in Goa as illegal. It has asked the state government to form a policy for lease allocation as well as mining within six months. The policy will be open to judicial review.

A central government-appointed Justice M.B. Shah Commission has exposed a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam in Goa, and found politicians, bureaucrats and mining company magnates are linked with it.

When the mining industry was at its peak, over 55 million tonnes of iron ore was exported from the state’s only major port in 2011.

Parrikar has also rejected the proposal to set up a state-run mining corporation, which, according to him, would be prone to corruption.

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