Goa ‘headless’ in Manohar Parrikar’s absence: Shiv Sena
Mumbai: With chief minister Manohar Parrikar away for medical treatment and no clear second-in-command, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday demanded President’s rule in Goa, as the state stares at a ban on mining that could rock its economy.
The Supreme Court on 7 February quashed 88 mining lease renewals and asked lease holders to stop operations from 16 March, until new leases are issued with fresh environmental clearances.
Without Parrikar, who also holds the mines portfolio, Goa has become “headless and deserves to be ruled by the President of India through his emissaries,” Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik, vice-president and spokesperson of Shiv Sena’s Goa unit, said in a statement.
The mining ban is “a grave issue” that calls for a political solution, he said. President’s rule will ensure Goa is administered at least from Delhi and pave the way for a political solution, he added.
Parrikar has been ailing since mid-February and left for the US on 8 March. He did not name a deputy chief minister, but formed a three-member advisory committee comprising BJP minister Francis D’Souza, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Paksha (MGP) minister Sudin Dhavalikar, and Goa Forward (GF) minister Vijay Sardesai to run day-to-day affairs. The Goa cabinet has not met since 22 February when Parrikar tabled the budget.
Shiv Sena’s Naik questioned the utility of the advisory committee. “Those who know state politics will admit that leaders like Vijay Sardesai and Sudin Dhavalikar share nothing in common and there can never be any unanimity between them on any issue. That is why they have not held a single meeting on the issue of mining ban,” he said.
Apart from tourism, mining is major employer in Goa, with more than 200,000 people directly or indirectly depending on it.
MGP legislators and some of the BJP’s own MLAs have spoken about time running out for the mining sector. On 5 March, an all-party delegation of Goa legislators met Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who is BJP’s Goa in-charge, and railway minister Piyush Goyal, requesting them to find ways to resume mining. Three BJP MPs from Goa including BJP Goa president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar on Tuesday met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi to seek his intervention.
Tendulkar told Mint over the phone that the mining ban would cripple Goa’s economy. “Mining only resumed in Goa in 2016 after a ban of more than two years. After it resumed, people in the transport and barge industry have taken loans from private lenders to buy equipment, trucks etc. Their investment will go waste if mining is banned again”, Tendulkar said.
Nilesh Cabral, BJP legislator from Curchorem, has been quite vocal on the issue since his is one of the nine assembly constituencies where a bulk of the mining operations are located. He told Mint that joint efforts need to be made by both the Goa government and the centre. “The three-member committee has no powers to get this done. The state cabinet has to meet and has to work with the centre to find a solution. I really don’t know what is happening and if there will be a positive outcome before 16 March. I understand the CM has not been well and I wish him a speedy recovery. But precious time is being lost before the ban kicks in,” he said.
Glenn Kalavampara, secretary of Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association said that both the governments need to “restore investor confidence in Goa as well as make sure Goa retains its competitive edge as a reliable supplier of iron ore”.
“The mining sector contributes a revenue of Rs3,500 crore per annum to the Goa government and the Goan economy. There are secondary and tertiary sectors that have emerged as spin-offs of the primary mining sector and more than 2 lakh people are dependent on this entire sector. Losing a revenue of Rs3500 crore plus 2 lakh-plus jobs is a huge economic and social setback for a small state like Goa. We have to remember that tourism provides jobs and revenue on the coastal side, but the core economic activity in Goa is mining only. If mining is banned in Goa, our competitors in the export sector will fill that vacuum in the meantime,” Kalavampara told Mint.