Goa govt mum on recovery of losses from illegal mine owners

Goa govt mum on recovery of losses from illegal mine owners

Following Justice M B Shah Commission's report on illegal iron ore mining in Goa, the state government is apparently non-committal on recovering a whopping Rs 35,000 crore from the mine owners who illegally plundered the resources.

In its report, Shah Commission has pointed out around 100 encroachments outside the mining lease areas by the companies which extracted large sums of ore between 2006-2010.

The Commission's report, tabled in Parliament last week, quantified the total extraction of ore from these encroachments to Rs 35,000 crore. The judicial panel has recommended that the money should be recovered by the state from the mine owners.

However, state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has been on an action taking spree against the officials involved in illegal mining operations, has remained silent over the recovery of money from the mine operators.

"We are still examining the report (of Shah Commission)," he said, responding to a question on recovery. "We will impose penalty on the mining firms which have encroached upon the revenue (government) lands," he added.

The state government's soft pedalling on the issue comes as an unexpected stand considering the magnitude of the ore illegally extracted from these encroachments.

Amid all this, the Parrikar government had suspended seven officials from state Mines and Geology Department within hours of the Union Mines Ministry tabling the Shah Commission report in Parliament on September 7.

Also, all the 90 odd mining leases were suspended, asking the owners to submit the relevant documents before Mines and Geology Department.

The mining outside the lease area, which is a blatant violation of the law, was done in 2,796.24 hectares area, of which the actual extraction happened in 578 hectares. Shah Commission records indicate that still 2,222 ha of land is left untouched, but encroached by the mine owners.

Over the years, total 1,273 million metric tonnes of ore was extracted from these illegal encroachments worth Rs 35,000 crore. Shah commission had recommended that the state government should take immediate action to recover market cost of the iron ore illegally extracted after having proven estimation or others from outside the leased areas with exemplary penalty, along with criminal cases be filed against the lessees and department officials.

"The cost incurred due to estimation should be recovered from the extractors," it has added.