Panaji: After earlier telling the assembly on Wednesday that the state only suffered a loss of Rs 50 to Rs 100 crore in the illegal mining scam as against Rs 35,000 crore estimated by the Justice Shah Commission, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said a little later that the extent of the scam was actually Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,000 crore.
He said that the Rs 50 to Rs 100 crore figure was limited to only one aspect of the revenue loss caused by the illegalities in the mines sector. “It does not mean that the mining loss is Rs 100 crore. I had said that I had recovered Rs 300 crore. If I had said the loss is Rs 100 crore, how could I have recovered Rs 300 crore. Out of 10 different types of losses, in one particular section the loss is not as indicated by Shah Commission.
Losses are (caused) because of dump mining at that time, differences between ore extracted and exported,” Parrikar said at a press conference after speaking on the subject in the assembly during Question Hour. “The PAC (Public Accounts Committee) report of Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,000 crore loss to government was correct, and accordingly, they (the Committee of Chartered Accountants) have estimated loss at Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 crore,” he said.
“Finally what is the loss and what losses can be justified recoveries will be done accordingly,” added Parrikar, who was the author of the Committee report, as the Leader of Opposition in 2011. “Some losses being tackled by special investigation team. Many people are absconding, just disappeared from the scene. The SIT has charge-sheeted eight cases. SIT and a chartered accountants team together will form the total loss, which, according to me, is around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore,” he said.
The Chief Minister also faulted the Justice M.B. Shah Commission’s estimate of Rs 35,000 crore for the Goa mining scam, claiming the survey data collected by the Commission was faulty. “The Shah Commission report is based on survey carried out by hand-held gadgets… They did not do a proper survey. They should have done a proper survey,” Parrikar told the assembly during Question Hour in reply to a question by former Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro of the Congress.
Parrikar, who holds the Mines Portfolio, said the Commission had estimated that lease boundaries had been shifted by mining companies and an additional 580 odd hectares of land was appropriated by them. “But a detailed survey conducted by the state government has revealed that only around 10 hectares of land had been encroached upon by the mining companies,” he added. “The Shah Commission survey is wrong,” Parrikar said, adding that the total value of the ore extracted does not represent a loss to the state government, but the loss is of the royalty on ore extracted.
He also said that the component of revenues earned by the mining sector in Goa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was only five per cent in 2018, in comparision to 2012, when it used to be 17 to 18 per cent. Mining was stopped in Goa by a series of bans by the state and central governments, as well as by the Supreme Court in 2012. The apex court lifted the ban in 2014.
Parrikar also said that early resumption of mining in Goa, which was again banned in February this year, was one of the top priority of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in the state. The mining issue has been hanging fire in Goa, every since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from March, while also directing the state to re-issue mining leases.
The is the second time in less than a decade that all mining in the state has come to a standstill. While lifting the first ban, the apex court had imposed fresh restrictions while snubbing the state government for messing up with the lease renewal processes.