Panaji:  The Goa government should start proceedings to recover a whopping Rs.35,780 crore owed by errant mining companies in dues and tax arrears, a green organisation has demanded.

In a letter to Goa Chief Secretary B. Vijayan, Goa Foundation, an NGO whose petition against illegal mining resulted in the nearly two-year long mining ban, Monday demanded that criminal proceedings should also be started against Goan miners, which the organisation’s director Claude Alvares claimed were trying to dodge by merely paying a penalty.

“The amount due for recovery is in the region of approximately Rs.25,149 crore. With 12 percent interest burden, this amounts to Rs.35,780 crore,” Alvares claimed.

Alvares’ letter comes at a time the state government has been accused of cozying up to the mining lobby and, according to the Opposition as well as greens, of letting off several mining magnates from Goa.

Alvares claimed that attempts were being made by the mining companies to skip criminal proceedings, despite extracting ore illegally for over five years.

“The miners want to convert ‘illegal to proper’ by paying a penalty. The people of Goa want rich thieves to be treated like any other thief – full compensation, jail term. Parrikar is proposing a penalty to legalise or regularise the illegal,” Alvares said.

After banning mining for nearly two years, the Supreme Court has conditionally lifted the ban, directing the state government to draw up a mining policy.

A judicial commission had exposed a Rs.35,000 crore scam, establishing a nexus between politicians, mining companies and bureaucrats.

Free Press Journal