- Congress in line with the central government after a long time
Congress, who was in a constant tussle with the government on the agriculture bill, has announced to support the Modi government on resumption of mining in Goa. It’s after a long time that the government has the support of Congress on any issue.
Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said that the issue of resuming iron ore mining in Goa has been persistent for a very long time and the current BJP government has failed on this issue. He also said that if the Central Government brings a bill for this in the Parliament, Congress will support it.
It is to be noted that recently, 21 sarpanches of Goa had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting to save their livelihood, and now Congress has come in the support of the resumption of mining openly. Meanwhile, after the cabinet meeting today, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the government will auction 8 mines soon, but the Congress wants that the mines that were operating, should be resumed immediately so that the people can get employment. The livelihood of more than three lakh people of Goa was dependent entirely on mining, and now they are unemployed. Adding to the misery of people is the falling tourism due to the havoc caused by the pandemic.
If truth be told, mining in Goa is a complicated issue. In 2012, Manohar Parrikar of BJP made it an issue for the elections, and then put a ban on mining. Later, mining was resumed for some time, but then it got banned again in 2018. Since then, the issue of restarting these mines have been persisting. Mining work in Goa started in the 40s before its independence with the leases granted by the then Portuguese government. Later they were regularized after independence. The mine owners of Goa claim that they should be given a second lease extension under the law like the rest of the country. This matter is now pending in the Supreme Court. The people of Goa want that the issue of lease extension of these mines should be resolved by bringing a bill in the Parliament so that people can get employment immediately.
Meanwhile, this has been a dominant and burning issue in the politics of Goa, and this is the reason why every party is trying to capitalize on it. The Aam Aadmi Party had recently announced that if it comes to power, mining will be resumed within 6 months. The BJP government of the state has also assured that it is forming a corporation and mining will be resumed soon after auctioning 6-8 mining blocks.
The Congress and the BJP have been face-to-face in Goa for many years over mining. In 2012, the then Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar had accused the Congress of looting 35000 crores and tried to rail it in. However, after coming to power, he admitted that the amount was not more than Rs 300 crore.