Majority of the PAC members decline to sign it
The fate of the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Goa Assembly headed by the Leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar (BJP), which has reportedly indicted the government agencies and blamed the nexus of politicians in power and bureaucrats for illegal mining, will be decided by Speaker Pratapsinh Rane on Friday, the last day of the brief session of the Assembly.
Mr. Parrikar, who submitted a copy of the report to the Speaker on Wednesday, the first day of the session, told The Hindu on Thursday that he hoped that the Speaker would allow him to table the report in the House on Friday.
The fate of the PAC report presently hangs in the balance as the majority of the PAC members comprising three of the ruling Congress and one MGP, an alliance partner, declined to sign it on Tuesday ahead of its presentation to the House, claiming that they were not taken into confidence by the Chairman.
The Speaker is already on record stating that he would have to examine its legality first as it had not been signed by the majority and then take a decision.
The report is understood to have recommended that an independent agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) be asked to probe the illegal mining being carried out with the connivance of local politicians, bureaucrats of the Mines and Forest Departments and police force.
The PAC which has based its investigations on the report of the Comptroller Auditor-General, which was submitted to the Assembly earlier, is understood to have suggested investigation of total exports of ore for the last 10 years to identify the source of illegal mining and trace the money trail to identify the culprits involved. It has also recommended transfers of forest and police officials in mining belt taluks of Sanguem, Quepem, Bicholim and Sattari.
The role of the Ministry of Environment and Forests has also been questioned by the PAC which has estimated a loss of crores of rupees in royalty and pointed to environmental degradation and huge destruction of forests.
While suggesting a cap on additional permissions for extraction, the report is also understood to have recommended that no additional diversion of forest land be permitted for mining.
While pointing to nexus between politicians and illegal mine operators, it has not named any politician in power.
Operative portions of the report said: “How much involvement of various politicians does exist, what is the illegality quantum, can only be brought to light if a criminal investigation is conducted.”
The PAC report says “reasonable doubt prevails that influential politicians including Ministers are deeply involved,” but goes on to name only two, including one former MLA and a ruling party defeated candidate in last election.
The report also blames top Indian Administrative Service officials who were earlier posted as Secretaries in the mining and the Forest Departments but does not name them.
The Congress high command observers during their Goa visit recently had questioned the impartiality of the PAC report, accusing Mr. Parrikar of leaking it to the media ahead of its presentation to the Assembly.