Goa’s man of the moment, who has single-handedly and successfully fought against the government against the illegalities, especially mining. In wake the BJP-led government making moves to re-start mining by promulgating an ordinance, SURAJ NANDREKAR speaks to the stalwart to find out his opinion
HERALD: The mining dependents are up in the arms over closure of mining after Supreme Court order and the BJP as well as the alliance partners are making hectic moves to gain attention of Centre to resume the operations. Your opinion.
Claude Alvares: I have no interest on what they are doing on mining because according to me the fault is squarely with the government of Goa. The Government is not taking sound decisions because all the decisions of the State on mining are being made even today by the mining industry and not all but only 4 or 5 actors.
HERALD: What do you think about the agitations by mining dependents, are they instigated by mining companies?
Claude Alvares: The mining industry has kept this agitation going on for more than one year because they want leases back. They have no interest in the workers as they all have workers. On the other hand, the government wants to give leases back to the same party. Now, there are some practical reasons why they want to give leases back and there is also a reason that they have supported party’s financially in past few elections.
HERALD: According to you will mining resume again?
Claude Alvares: Now if government takes proper decision in the favour of the economy, in the favour of mining, in favour of truckers or export of ore, or in favour of all Goans benefiting from mining then the solution is almost immediate. But if the government continues to promote the program of mining companies, mining will not start for another 10 years. It may not start at all.
HERALD: What about the politicians supporting the mining dependents agitation?
Claude Alvares: See, their job is to fool the people. Somebody is fooling people for one year and they believe them. The court passed two judgements one in April 2015 and another on Feb 7, 2018, they are not following the judgement and telling people something else.
What can Claude Alvares do, I am not god to tell that they are thinking something wrong. If after so many years of elections public is still supporting these scoundrels, what I have got to do in the business? You continue, you have full right to believe in mining industry, politicians you can believe them for five years also.
HERALD: Despite the bravado of stopping illegality, Claude Alvares was criticised in Delhi agitation by politicians like Nilesh Cabral. How do you feel about it?
Claude Alvares: Nilesh Cabral is an interested party, he owns a number of trucks and his opinion on mining is totally unbalanced. You should not take Nilesh Cabral as a proper consultant or guide on mining as he will land you into a ditch, which is what he has done for so many years from the times of agitations on roads and bridge.
If people want to still believe what these MLAs, there is nothing I can do, Mr Nilesh Cabral can cry and shout and say whatever he wants. I am a citizen of India and I have a right to stay wherever I want, I can do whatever I want and if whatever I do is constitutionally correct and the court also feels so, then I don’t care what Nilesh Cabral thinks.
HERALD: Back again, can an Ordinance restart mining?
Claude Alvares: I have nothing to say on Ordinance as they are all proposals put up by the mining industry or by the Goa government so why should I respond to that. If they continue to rely on mining industry for advise, mining will not start for 10 years. But if you want to do mining with the interest of the Goan public or Goan Truckers and barge owners than only option is what Goa foundation is said we have no choice. The sooner you do the better I blame the Goa govt as one year has been lost.
HERALD: What are the options according to you?
Claude Alvares: Goa government doing the mining itself or auction. Auction is the least on the mind as according to us it is a bad proposal because auction will bring more powerful friends of the BJP into the war like Adani and JSW they would be worse. Companies like Vedanta, JSW and Adani can get loan and come and bid for mines. So, Goa government doing mining remains the only option.