29, Mar 2018 | CJP Team
The Goa Lokayukta will reportedly begin hearing a case filed by the Goa Foundation against former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and other government officials over the renewal of 88 mining leases on April 2. The Goa Foundation lodged the complaint with the Lokayukta on Saturday, March 24, seeking an investigation into the illegal renewal of the 88 mining leases. According to an official statement, the foundation has alleged that the illegal renewals “led to losses to the State of Rs. 1,44,000 crores”.
Claude Alvares, Director, Goa Foundation, said that the foundation has been asked to be present at the office of the Goa Lokayukta on April 2 for a preliminary hearing. The complaint, filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, also names Pawan Kumar Sain, former secretary of mines, and Prasanna Acharya, current director of mines and geology. It states that “the above persons entered into an unholy conspiracy to renew 88 mining leases to several persons in Goa. These renewals appear to be result of corrupt acts,” and that the illegal renewals of mining licenses were issued for the advantage of private individuals and companies.
On February 7, the Supreme Court of India cancelled all renewals of mining leases for iron ore extraction in Goa. In a 2014 judgment, the Supreme Court had ruled that all iron ore mining leases in Goa had lapsed on November 22, 2007, and that any mining that had taken place since that date was illegal. The court then allowed for mining to resume after “fresh leases and fresh ECs” were issued. However, Goa’s BJP government, headed by at the time by Laxmikant Parsekar and then Manohar Parrikar, renewed 88 mining leases instead of prosecuting those who held illegal leases and conducting mineral auctions. This step suggested clear political patronage to private players. The Goa Foundation called the Supreme Court’s February 2018 judgment a “virtual grand slam against illegal orders and connivance of Goan politicians and miners,” saying it “in effect reverts absolute control over the mineral resources of Goa back into the hands of the State and the people of the state.”
In its judgment, the court noted, “The State ignored the fact that every single mining lease holder had committed some illegality or the other in varying degrees,” later adding, “… It is therefore clear that the considerations that weighed with the State were not for the people of Goa but were for the mining lease holders.”