Claims condonation of delay and renewal of mining lease was done in 1992-93 by Central government; Will approach court to quash FIR against him if there is delay in SIT investigation
PANJIM: Mine owner Prafulla Hede, being probed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for illegal condonation, clarified that the condonation and renewal of the Collem mining licence was granted by the Central government much before the amendment to the Minerals Concession Rules giving powers to the State government.
Hede at a press conference on Wednesday, to shed light on the ‘facts’, said he never approached the State for renewal of the mining lease. Denying any political vendetta against him he, however, did not rule out the possibility that he could be a scapegoat in a tussle between two parties.
“It is being reported that I operated my mining lease illegally as I got condonation as late as 2007. Why will I apply for renewal when the condonation of delay for renewal of mining licence at Collem was done in 1992-93? The Central government had passed the final order on February 9, 1993 to the State government in exercise of its Revisionary Powers under Section 30 of Mines Minerals (Development & Regulations) Act, 1957 and Rule 55 of MCR, 1960 for compliance by the State government,” he said.
During this period, the State government had no powers to condone the delay and it was bound to comply with Centre’s directions. He stated that various departments and agencies were in the loop in compliance of mining plan, mining scheme, mine closure plan, Forest Conservation Act clearance, Wild Life clearance, clearance of Essentiality Certificate, which included public hearing, payment of all royalties, cess, surface rent, etc. “Other permits and licenses from the Indian Bureau of Mines, Ministry of Environment and Forests and all concerned departments were obtained. All these were completed by 2004-05, much earlier to signing the lease deed in 2007,” he asserted, claiming he didn’t meet any mines official or politician with regards to this case.
He argued that if the State had found any illegality, it should have challenged the condonation. He also stated that he will take legal opinion to seek quashing of the FIR registered against him. “The SIT has treated me well and I have replied to every question during my deposition last week. I will wait for one-two months, and if the investigation prolongs further, I will approach the court seeking quashing of the FIR against me,” he said. “The case will die by itself. SIT probe will not find any evidence against me,” he added.
Asked on his political affiliation with the Nationalist Congress Party, Hede blatantly denied links with any political party. “I am not in active politics and neither a primary member. I have no intentions to join any party, though I have friends in politics. I have even legally donated some amount of money to political parties,” he said denying any enemies in political circles.