Herald: Oh no, not again?

Oh no, not again?

11 Mar 2018 07:49am IST

Report by
By James Monteiro

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11 Mar 2018 07:49am IST

Report by
By James Monteiro

I write this with disillus i o nme n t , with an empty feeling in my stomach and a sick feeling in my guts. I did know that politicians stoop very low to achieve their clandestine and often, very corrupt goals but this low was a new low. I do not see any low lower than this. I feel completely cheated and helpless. Together with me, all right thinking people of Goa will bow their heads in shame for having elected such a breed of people to represent us. What can we do other than being mute spectators when our utterly myopic, selfish, conceited and stubborn MLAs and MPs do everything except follow the rule of law? We know that jungle raj exists only in some corrupt unruly states, but were not aware that it had crept into our tiny Goa.

 How many more times must our stubborn politicians have to be told that the mining mafia of Goa in cahoots with the governments (meaning themselves) cutting across party lines, and the bureaucracy has defrauded Goa of thousands of crores? Justice Shah had quoted thirty five thousand crores, but the latest figure is sixty five thousand and counting. The state was asked to investigate and recover the loot. Every single Goan knows who were the big fish involved in this loot and plunder. Only our government and its agencies feign to be clueless and are still groping in the dark. We thought that the apex court’s castigation and humiliation of the government and its agencies for abetting the fraud would have shamed these politicos. It was befitting the then dispensation (and its two terms mines minister and chief minister) together with the colluding and conniving ‘babus ‘, miners and traders to be safely caged at Colvale.“ Kotti borun udkant naak buddoipachem”. Alas! That was not to be! The obvious culprit at whose door the buck should have stopped, being the minister concerned as well as the chief minister, got re- elected and is a free man today. The state can’t touch him. Five years of investigation netted the director of mines and two small fry traders. I understand that the director has been reinstated. Whoever says crime doesn’t pay deserves to be punched!

 The apex court allowed mining to start with severe strictures. The mining leases were not to be renewed but tendered afresh so as to derive maximum income for the state. And here begins the sordid saga all over again. We had heard a lot being said about the nexus between the miners and politicians of all hues and colors. It was said that politicians were on their payrolls. It was said that miners financed elections of political parties and could make or break governments. It was said that the miners, the politicians and the bureaucracy were a cozy club who thrived on the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” adage. All this was proven to be nothing but the truth, when instead of being once bitten twice shy, our government promptly went ahead and renewed the leases of the holders against all the court’s norms. And ironically this was initiated by the same man who when in the opposition brought out a PAC report screaming that illegal mining was rampant in Goa. Shame.Shame. When he left to join the union cabinet, his successor renewed all the remaining leases most probably on the logic that “Bhain poilem kelem ani thea mulle hanven kelem”. Then too, Goa Foundation was screaming that this was contravening the Supreme Court guidelines but it fell on deaf ears. Result : These renewals struck down by the SC last month.

 Who was responsible for the earlier fraud and stoppage in 2012? Obviously it is the then government who actively participated in the loot. Why is it so difficult to put that government’s head on the block? Has it not left a trail behind? Or is it that the authorities do not want to follow the trail for fear of skeletons tumbling out of their clothes store (wardrobe is too small)? And who is responsible for this latest fraud and stoppage? The present CM and the defeated ex- CM of course! How did they go ahead renewing leases contravening the SC strictures? Who was the legal brain that gave the green signal? Did this border on contempt of court? We want their heads on the block.

 Although we always knew it, we now have the proof that most of our elected members of assemblies as well as Parliament are myopic, selfish and do not have the State’s interest at heart at all. Unless their personal interests are being jeopardized, our MLAs will pamper and pander to their vote-bank. We saw the classic case of the taxi operators strike demanding roll back of all policies which were in the passenger’s interest. We were surprised and applauded when we heard the Transport minister talk tough to uphold the law but soon saw him giving in to all their arm twisting and threats. And the MLAs of the coastal belt were shamelessly mollycoddling and supporting the arrogant taxiwallas who were aggressively and abusively pursuing concessions which were against the interests of the people of Goa. So what if Goans felt betrayed? This is my vote-bank and as I want to stick to my chair, I will support them in anything they do even if it is against the law. After all the rest of Goa doesn’t re-elect me, my vote bank does.

 And now the case of mining. The mining dependent people of Goa comprising of truck owners, barge owners, garages, employees of mines, grew in numbers and actively contributed to the booming mining market in the early 2000. Just as IT flourished in Hyderabad/ Bangalore, pharma in Himachal, steel in Jharkand, so did mining in Goa. Little did the stakeholders know that the people elected to oversee the flourishing trade were slowly but surely slitting the throat of the goose that was laying the golden eggs. The goose is now dead and the killer must be punished. After being continuously castigated by the apex court to the extent of calling the government brokers of the miners, we thought that good sense would prevail. But it appears that all politicians, cutting across party lines have decided to actively support the existing lease holders and themselves by citing interests of mining dependents. If you were so concerned about the mining dependents why did you flout the SC directions and bring doom over them? Although we sympathize with the mining dependents we denounce the miners who have defrauded the state. They must pay for their fraud committed on the Goan people. But hey wait a minute! I thought our MLAs were elected to safeguard the interest of the state or so their oath says. Then how come they are pushing the cause of the miners in spite of knowing that thousands of crores have been siphoned off by them. If this is not nexus, what is it? And they want an ordinance to circumvent the SC ruling! In other words, I loot, you loot, let’s all loot the state, but if anyone objects let’s legalize looting. That’s the gist of the arguments of these guys who went to Delhi and were almost jailed by Union minister Piyush Goyal. He seems to be a sensible minister as that’s their rightful place. Some legislators cited the Jallikattu protest in Tamil Nadu and the subsequent ordinance. That was a movement where the entire state rose in unison to legalize a sport. There was no mass corruption involved. The mining dependent people are only a part of the Goan population and do not represent all Goans. No sane Goan will support illogical reasons being dished out by our politicians to continue the loot and plunder of the state. And what a pitiable sight our opposition makes! Except for the Curtorim MLA, not a whimper of protest from the others to denounce the devious and dubious plans of the government of circumventing the apex court ruling. And the president of the largest opposition party props his head out for a PC, makes some feeble noises, and retreats into his cozy shell. And the LOP has the Damocles sword above his head so he will nod at anything the rulers say. Next if the court cracks down on matka, we may have our “honorable legislators” goading the Centre to issue another ordinance as so many people will lose their luck game, so many people will lose employment and so many high profile people will lose business. And the issues go on and on. Where does it all end? Isn’t it high time that the ordinance route is abolished once and for all and the apex court’s ruling deemed final?

 But who will bell the cat? Our MPs? Forget it. If they start wasting time in legislating when will they have time for sloganeering, slandering, abusing , running to the well of the house and disrupting the Parliament?


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