In Parrikar's absence, Goa stares at mining crisis

Goa mining Representational image | Directorate of Mines & Geology, Government of Goa

With the Supreme Court's deadline on closure of mining operations in Goa ending on March 15, a high-level committee of the state government would meet on Wednesday to discuss the impending crisis in terms of the loss to revenue and jobs.

"I have spoken to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (who is in the US) over phone. The cabinet advisory committee (CAC) will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3pm to discuss and decide the future course of action on the SC order, as the mining crisis is staring Goa in the face," said Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai, who is one of the three members of the CAC.

The Supreme Court last month quashed 88 mining leases in Goa and directed them to stop fresh extraction of ore from March 15 onwards.

The CAC was set up by Parrikar on March 5 before he left for the US for medical treatment.

The CAC—comprising Sardesai (GFP), Francis D'Souza (BJP) and Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP)—is supposed to guide the administration in absence of the chief minister.

Sardesai's Goa Forward Party and Dhavlikar's Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party are alliance partners in the BJP-led state government.

The CAC was awarded financial powers to approve proposals involving expenditure up to Rs 5 crore.

The mining industry in Goa is in a state of shock in the wake of the Supreme Court order.

The SC had given time till March 15 to mining lease holders, who were granted a second renewal in violation of its previous directions, to manage their affairs.

Meanwhile, all the three BJP MPs from the coastal state on Tuesday met party president Amit Shah in Delhi and sought his intervention in the matter.

Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik and Narendra Sawaikar are Lok Sabha MPs while Vinay Tendulkar is a Rajya Sabha member.

Tendulkar told reporters the meeting was fruitful as Shah has agreed to look into the issue "positively and personally."

"We briefed him about the possible economic and social impact of the mining ban in Goa. He assured us to look into the matter," he said.

Besides an annual revenue loss to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore, around 2 lakh people who are dependent on mining would lose their jobs due to the closure of the industry, he said.

The state mines and geology department has already issued orders to stop extraction of fresh ore from the mining leases from March 15 onwards.

Meanwhile, the state unit of the Shiv Sena has demanded action from the Centre over the mining crisis. The party has called for president's rule, so that people dependent on the mining industry would get relief.