Shah Commission recommended action against 110 traders for violating norms

The Goa administration has ordered a re-verification of the “missing and unscrupulous” iron ore traders by the police before actually filing police complaints against them for various violations, as suggested earlier by the Shah Commission of Inquiry.

Environmental activists eagerly awaiting the inquiry report here, however, alleged that these were “delaying tactics adopted by officials to save their own skin or that of their predecessors” who were instrumental in large-scale violations in registration of ore traders.

Over a fortnight ago, a senior official of the Shah Commission repeatedly asked the Goa Mines and Geology Department to file police complaints against nearly 110 of the 400-plus such traders who could not be traced at their addresses, according to a report submitted by State Home Department.

The report, which was submitted to the inquiry commission directly by the Department of Mines and Geology last month, was viewed seriously by the Shah Commission.

Sources in the State government toldThe Hinduthat following the recommendations of the Shah Commission, the Mines Department was asked to order a re-verification after it was brought to the notice of the administration that some genuine companies had shifted their offices after their leases expired.

The sources admitted that there could be some genuine cases which needed another opportunity but the government was not opting for it since it would allow some influential fly-by-night operators an escape route and also avert or delay police action against many officials in the department, past and present, for their dubious role in faulty registration of traders based on poor data and inadequate information.

The police in their report had stated that the offices of the traders and companies were found closed or not traceable as they had shifted to new locations. In some cases, sketchy addresses were given, inviting response from police that the trader “did not exist.”

Sources in the Mines Department admitted that there could be a substantial number of fly-by-night operators but emphasised that before taking any action it was necessary to double check the addresses of the companies.

“We will definitely file complaints against the companies for violating the norms and involvement in illegal export of ore once re-verification exercise was done,” said an official of the Department.

The issue assumes seriousness as it has been indicated during the verification of records of the Mines and Geology Department that in some cases permission was granted in the past to mining trading companies overnight without following procedures.

As it is now becoming clear that the Shah Commission is likely to submit its interim report as regards illegal activities by mining companies in Goa by the second week of December, there has been a frenetic activity in the State Department of Mines as regards submitting various documents called for by the commission.