Gadkari directs team to submit memorandum to Centre via Goa Governor; Centre asks state to prepare for auctions within two months; TCP Minister & Opposition leader "conspicuous by their absence"
PANJIM: In a major disappointment, the all-party delegation had to return empty-handed, after the Central government refused to heed to their demand to promulgate an ordinance to amend the Goa Daman and Diu Mining Concession (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987, while directing to process for auction of iron ore leases within the next two months.
All party-delegation led by PWD Minister Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar on Monday called on Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal seeking Central government’s immediate intervention in ensuring that the iron ore mining activities continue in the State after March 15.
The delegation pointed out that stoppage of mining activities will adversely affect revenue worth Rs 3,500 crore to the State and those dependent on the business.
Slamming the delegation for failing to get cabinet or Assembly resolution for the same, Gadkari directed the team to submit memorandum to Central Government via Goa Governor.
He questioned the failure to get Cabinet approval for the same.
The delegation comprised of MLAs from BJP- Vishwajit Rane, Pramod Sawant, Nilesh Cabral and Rajesh Patnekar, MGP MLAs Dhavalikar and Deepak Pauskar, Congress MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar and Independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar. South Goa BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar was also a part of the delegation.
Interestingly, the delegation did not include anyone from the coalition partner- Goa Forward Party. Party president and Minister Vijai Sardesai, who was supposed to be a part of the delegation, missed his flight to Delhi on Sunday evening.
“I missed my flight. But we have extended full support to the delegation and government’s demand,” Sardesai said.
Opposition Leader Chandrakant Kavlekar also failed to be part of the delegation. He, however, was unavailable for comments.
The Supreme Court in its recent verdict had quashed 88 mining leases asking them to stop fresh ore extraction from March 15 onwards.
BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral said that
the delegation met Gadkari, Goyal and Secretary Mines as the minister Narendra Singh Tomar was out of the country.
“Gadkari asked me to send the proposal to amend Goa Abolition Act, which would extend the life of the existing mining leases, solving the entire crisis,” he said.
“The proposal will have to be moved before the State cabinet first and has to be signed by all the political parties. It would be then submitted to the Central Government,” he said.
“We are hopeful that the Centre will consider our proposal and move an amendment to Goa Abolition Act in the Parliament,” Cabral added.
He said the delegation will visit Delhi again on March 9 to meet Union Mines Minister.
Sources revealed that during the meeting, Secretary Mines, categorically ruled out any amendment to the Act and directed to put the machineries in place for auction process.
“Secretary Mines was very clear that as per the law and Supreme Court order, State will have to undertake the auction of leases. The process has to be started within the next two months,” sources stated.
“In the very beginning, Union Minister Goyal, questioned on whether the delegation has come as brokers of mining lobby,” sources said.
The delegation tried to impress upon the Centre on the appointed date as specified in Section 2(a) of the Abolition act: the ‘appointed day’ means the 20th day of December 1961.
Furthermore, the delegation demanded that via an ordinance, the date be specified as the day the President of India granted assent to the Goa Daman and Diu Concession (Abolition and Declaration As Mining Leases) Act, 1987.
“If the date is changed, the question of having renewed leases in 2007 will not arise, rendering the Supreme Court decision to strike down the renewals as null and void,” the sources added.