Mining lobby, politicians tried to hijack Hegde's events: Activists

Hegde, known for his taking on the powerful mining lobby in Karnataka, was in Goa for a panel discussion on the issue of "Lokayukta: Goa's concerns" and to deliver a lecture on the "Role of Lokayukta in good governance" organized by the Goa chapter of the India International Centre.

While Hegde was lined up with Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Goa Shantaram Naik and former union minister of state for law Ramakant Khalap, he also shared the dais with a prominent mine owner Dattaraj Salgaoncar, a partner in mining firm V.M. Salgaoncar and Brothers, which has been hauled for illegalities in mining by the Goa government in the recent past.

"Calling politicians will naturally sabotage the whole thing. Both Shantaram Naik as well as Khalap were trying to subvert the whole issue. They should not have been invited and even if they are invited they should not be allowed to speak," said Rui Gama, an activist who was one of the panellists at the event.

"Santosh Hegde was not aware that the event was sponsored by Dattaraj Salgaocar. He is involved in mining," Gama said.

Soter D'Souza, who has been promoting efforts to take democracy to the grass-roots, said that attempts were made to manipulate the events in which Hegde was to participate.

"Good to hear that people who manipulated corrupt systems are today sponsoring anti-corruption events. As long as people continue to get manipulated nothing will change," D'Souza sarcastically remarked.

However, Arjun Halarnkar, programme manager at the IIC, said the event was not sponsored by any mining company or Salgaoncar.

"Dattaraj Salgaoncar proposed the vote of thanks. He was there in capacity as the life trustee of the ICG (International Centre Goa). The function was not sponsored by him. In fact Justice Hegde did not accept airfare or even costs for his stay. He paid for his ticket on his own and came down," Halarnkar said.


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