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Goa: Politicians-mining lobby nexus exposed


Shoaib Ahmed,CNN-IBN
Oct 11, 2011 at 07:20pm IST

Panaji: The Goa PAC report which accused the Digambar Kamat-led government in the state of turning a blind eye to a multi-thousand crore mining scam fizzled due to a lack of consensus among all political parties.

CNN-IBN has now found that one of the biggest alleged violators, Sesa Goa Ltd, makes no bones about payments running into lakhs over the years to all political parties in the state.

Were these mere donations or collusion money? Activists have alleged there is a secret understanding among all political parties.

"All this turmoil that you see between the BJP and the Congress seems to be more for public consumption because many of the companies that have been found in violation of the environment norms have been dishing out donations to all political parties in the state of Goa," said Claude Alvares, an activist.

Annual reports of Sesa Goa Ltd, allegedly one of the biggest mining violators in Goa, show that the company paid Rs 28 lakh each to the BJP and the Congress as donations in 2007-08, Rs five lakh each to NCP, MGP and the Save Goa Front and Rs one lakh to Shiv Sena.

In 2009-10, it paid Rs 85 lakh to BJP, Rs 30 lakh to Congress and Rs 2 and Rs 1 lakh respectively to MGP and Shiv Sena.

While such donations are not unusual, political parties accepting them from alleged violators mentioned in government's own records, has raised serious questions.

Government records show Sesa Goa Ltd had permission to extract only four million tonnes of iron ore from three sites. However, it extracted an extra four million tonnes in 2007-2008 and another six million tonnes in 2008-2009.

At another site, it extracted an extra seven lakh tonnes of ore in 2008 and six lakh tonnes in 2009, flouting the Environment Ministry's limit of five lakh tonnes. The list goes on, and total violations of Sesa Goa allegedly exceeds a thousand crore.

However, when CNN-IBN confronted both the parties with the donation details, the BJP termed them as routine while the Congress remained evasive on the issue.

"It is routine that we approach the established mine companies for donations because they are one of the sources in Goa for number of years," said Manohar Parrikar, BJP Leader of Opposition.

"I am personally not aware about this. You should ask the people at the helm about this," said Mauvin Godinho, deputy speaker, Congress.

The denials have failed to cut much ice with the people of a state that believes the government was a mute spectator when their land was being gorged.

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