A Supreme Court-appointed committee has submitted its report on illegal mining in Goa, vindicating campaigns of anti-mining activists, including Catholics, against the menace for over a decade.
After the central empowered committee (CEC) submitted a report to the Supreme Court last week, activists say their claims of illegal mining in Goa stand vindicated.
There are now two official reports, one by the SC-appointed CEC and the other by the Justice M.B. Shah Commission, which back the claims of the environmentalists.
The Shah Commission report was submitted to parliament some months ago.
"The CEC has outlined an excellent road map regarding capping, re-surveys, etc. but one thing I find amiss is that there is no mention of how to recover the estimated Rs.35,000 crore loss," Siddarth Karapurkar, secretary of the Goenchea Xetkaracho Ekvott, a grassroots traditional farmers organisation in Goa, said in a conversation with IANS.
The CEC in its report submitted after nearly two months of ground study in Goa, has indicted government agencies for their inability to curb blatant illegal mining in Goa.
The report submitted by the CEC secretary M.K. Jiwraka has also asked that 42 blatantly illegal mines in Goa be closed down, apart from suggesting that environment clearances (EC) granted to all mining operations be verified, to rule out fraud.
Goa has nearly 90 operational mines.
The official Church in Goa too has been fighting the illegal mining. The archdiocesan Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) in a press release in October said mining makes life difficult for ordinary people.
It said “unregulated and illegal mining results in "growing depletion of ground water, acute respiratory ailments due to air pollution, destruction of farm lands, threat of landslides and floods, fatal accidents and deaths on roads due to over speeding of mining trucks, restriction of movement of the local people due to traffic congestion, and noise pollution, are just some of the problems faced by the people affected by the mining activity.”
Ramesh Gauns, a school teacher, who has doubled as an activist told IANS that the recent report was "justice due to the people of Goa and the state. It was reckless and mindless mining that was being carried out all these years. The CEC has tightened all the screws and the loopholes making it next to impossible to start mining again," he said.
Now with the Supreme Court set to decide the future of the multi-million dollar mining industry, and on course to bring the culprits of the Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam to book, Gauns's fellow-activists like Zarina da Cunha are only too happy.
"Now that the ball is in the court of judiciary, whatever they say is acceptable. Let the law take its course, I am confident it will," da Cunha said.
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