Taking nothing away from the fact that politicians do these things- give false hope and half truths to keep their constituents at bay, because of bad choices and decisions they have made, senior ruling party leaders are pushing the envelope and crossing some fundamental hallowed lines, in their attempt to keep ‘illegal’ mining going. But in attempting to actually bypass a Supreme Court verdict through executive and even political intervention, to allow mining leases which will cease to function as of March 16, a section of the state’s political class has hit a new low.
This, if allowed will set a dangerous precedent which violates the fundamental tenet of the independence and power than the three pillars of democracy enjoy. The elected MLA and ministers should understand both their powers and the limited scope of their powers, restricted to legislation while the courts have the power to adjudicate based on laws elected representatives frame. The judgment of February 7, 2018 quashing the second renewals granted to 88 leases, further established they were basically in violation since the functioning mining leases in were done in a manner which was “rapacious and rampant”.
The Supreme Court in the opening three paragraphs of its February 7 judgment, said enough which should have made any government (across parties) hang their heads in shame. Each member of the mining delegations, going to Delhi to convince the central leadership to continue illegal mining, should be asked to read and remember at least the first two pages of the judgment if nothing else, and if they do not quite understand the strength of those words in plain English, it is advisable that they ask. These words below from the SC judgment need to be repeated and said aloud to Goa’s mining MLAs, self-appointed messiahs of the mining lobby, in the garb of protecting livelihoods of the disadvantaged common masses
Excerpts of SC judgment : 1) “Exploitation of our natural resources is the hallmark of our iron ore mining sector - coupled with a total lack of concern for the environment and the health and well-being of the denizens in the vicinity of the mines. The sole motive of mining lease holders seems to be to make profits (no matter how) and the attitude seems to be that if the rule of law is required to be put on the backburner, so be it”
2) State is unable to firmly stop violations of the law and other illegalities, perhaps with a view to maximize revenue, but without appreciating the long term impact of this indifference. Another excuse generally put forth by the State is that of development, conveniently forgetting that development must be sustainable and equitable development and not otherwise.
We fail to fathom, how in the wake of this ‘Supreme’ castigation, Goa's MPs and a senior minister are attempting to deviate from a Supreme Court order by approaching the BJP president Amit Shah, after a failed attempt at letting mining continue, made at the door of central ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goel.
Your newspaper has maintained this consistently. The mining landscape needs to be cleaned of illegalities. It has to be refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s not about whether new leases will be auctioned or not, it’s all about allowing for the land to breathe and livelihoods protected from the recovery of illegality. That money will sustain livelihoods, till the road map for new leases is determined. If the intention is honest, there is no need to panic and this can be done. But if the intention is to keep the businesses of mining lobby going, in contempt of the Supreme Court order, then those who are proposing this misadventure have to be held accountable.