Congress demands probe into mining lease renewals during Goa CM Manohar Parrikar’s last term

Panaji: The Congress on Friday demanded a probe into renewal of iron ore mining leases during the previous tenure of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary A Chellakumar said former BJP chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had revealed that renewal of mining leases, termed illegal by the Supreme Court, was done during the tenure of his predecessor Parrikar. Parrikar had earlier held the chief minister’s post from 2012 to 2014 and he was succeeded by Parsekar. Parrikar, currently admitted in New Delhi’s AIIMS for a pancreatic ailment, became Goa’s chief minister again in March 2017.

A complaint was filed before the Lokayukta alleging the involvement of Parsekar, the then mines secretary Pawan Kumar Sain and current mines and geology department director Prasanna Acharya in the illegal renewal of 88 mining leases, which were quashed by the apex court on February 7, 2018. “Today, the truth has come out very clearly. It is not the Congress, it is nobody but their own party’s ex-chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar (who) had told (the Lokayukta) very clearly that it is not him but Parrikar who is the cause of looting of Rs 1,44,000 crore,” Chellakumar claimed. He sought to know why the state government was silent over the matter and why no charge sheet had been filed.

The Congress leader said a committee should be formed to investigate Parsekar’s allegations. The former chief minister, in a written reply to the Lokayukta last month, had said the policy to renew mining leases was framed by his predecessor (Parrikar) on the instructions of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court. “Parrikar had begun renewing the leases and during his tenure, eight or nine of them were already renewed,” Parsekar had told the anti-corruption watchdog. “When I took over, I followed Parrikar’s track,” Parsekar, who was the chief minister of Goa from November 2014 till March last year, had said.

Early this month, the Goa Lokayukta rejected the submissions made by Parsekar and the other two officials in the matter. In their submissions, Parsekar and the other respondents had contended that the NGO’s complaint was malicious in nature. Illegal renewal of iron ore mining leases benefited private mine operators and caused a major loss to the government, the NGO has alleged.

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