Sustainable mining will start in Goa if Congress comes to power: Rahul

Panaji: Visiting Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that sustainable mining will resume in Goa if the party came to power in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Gandhi arrived on a two-day visit to the coastal state on Friday to address a meeting of the Congress booth committee office bearers.

Earlier on Saturday, he met Puti Gaonkar, convenor of the Goa Mining People’s Front, along with members of the fisherfolk community.

“He (Gandhi) has assured us that sustainable mining will restart in Goa once the Congress comes to power,” Gaonkar told the media here.

The Congress chief also said that the party will help members of the Goa Mining People’s Front, who lost their jobs due to the ongoing mining ban, to field a senior counsel in the Supreme Court to fight their case.

The mining ban issue has been at the centre ever since the Supreme Court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases in February last year. The apex court also directed the state government to re-issue mining leases.

The Front has demanded amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, which would allow renewal of the mining leases in the coastal state.

The Act as it stands now, mandates auctioning of mining leases with major minerals.

Last month, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the state government should take the initiative to resolve the mining impasse.

Gaonkar warned that mining dependents, who form a sizeable chunk of voters in the state’s hinterland where the mining belt is located, would work against those politicians who did not work for resumption of mining.

“Our stand is clear. Those individuals who have stopped our employment, we will work against them during these upcoming elections.”

Gandhi also met the representatives of the fisherfolk community in Goa, who have demanded revoking the Centre’s new amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone norms, among others.

“We have submitted a memorandum to the Congress President seeking withdrawal of the new CRZ norms, denotification of the river nationalisation decision, etc. He has given an assurance that he will look into each and every demand of ours. We have also demanded a separate fisheries ministry at the central level,” Olencio Simoes, general secretary of the All Goa Fishing Union, told the media.