Crucial files pertaining to the alleged illegal mining have reportedly gone missing from the office of Mines & Geology Department
PANJIM: Assistant Geologist Ramnath Shetgaonkar could find himself in further trouble as some crucial files pertaining to the alleged illegal mining have reportedly gone missing from the office of Mines & Geology Department.
In a six-hour long search of his cabin at the Directorate of Mines & Geology Department last Friday, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) attached 26 files and another set of over a dozen inspection files of illegal ore extraction in private land. However, the sleuths could not locate some more important files – which were allegedly in his possession prior to the arrest - in connection with the case.
Police sources informed Herald that Shetgaonkar, whose custodial interrogation ends on Monday, claimed he was oblivious about how the files went missing. “He told us the cabin would not be locked before or after the office hours. But we don’t accept this justification because Shetgaonkar was always in possession of his office cabin keys,” said the source. The SIT has nevertheless maintained they have so far collected enough evidence against the mines officer to nail him during the case trial stage. “We will trace those missing files,” asserted an officer.
Shetgaonkar was arrested for his alleged involvement in the case consisting of 187-odd mining leases, last week. As a technical head, he was involved in inspection of several sites in Goa where illegal extraction of iron ore in lakhs of metric tonnes was carried out prior to 2012. He had also inspected the Korgao mining lease ~ wherein politician Jitendra Deshprabhu is an accused ~ but failed to propose criminal action. This was also reflected in other cases of theft of iron ore by individuals, firms etc at other leases.
Exclusive information to Herald reveals that Shetgaonkar proposed imposing compounding charge into illegal extraction of ore rather than recommending criminal action. “Illegal extraction of iron ore has been carried out in the property owned by the family of Deshprabhu of Pernem, and the reply to our show cause notice by Deshprabhu stating he was carrying out agricultural activities is false. As such, it is proposed to issue a demand notice,” he had mentioned in his file noting in October 2010. In another offence wherein one Mahadeo Naik confessed of being involved in illegal transportation, Shetgaonkar recommended payment of value of the mineral lying in the truck along with the compounding charge.
An officer stated that being an expert in the field, Shetgaonkar should have proposed legal comments. “He did not suggest criminal action against the violators under the Mines & Mineral Development Regulation Act and Indian Penal Code. He only proposed for recovery of royalty which was in small amount and overlooked major offences. Through this act, he has facilitated further theft of iron ore,” the officer claimed.
The mines officer, it is learnt, will also be probed in the other cases related to the mining scam.