Panaji, Sep 7: The Justice M.B. Shah Commission report, which was tabled in parliament Friday, says that Goa's iron ore mining scam is worth nearly Rs.35,000 crore.
The voluminous report holds the state government and central government agencies as parties to the scam, along with the powerful mining operators here, who according to Justice Shah, plundered natural resource and facilitated an "unrestricted, unchecked and unregulated export of iron ore to China", which made the exporters of ore "richer and richer".
Shah's report indicts former chief minister Digambar Kamat, who was minister for mines for over a decade from 2000 to 2012.
"By taking the average export cost at $60 per metric tonne of iron ore from 2006 to 2011 with a conversion rate of Rs.47 per US dollar, the total loss to the state comes out as (127257400.00 x 60 x 47) Rs.34935,928800000," Shah has said, pinning down the majority of the scam in the five years, when an energy-hungry China aggressively imported ore from Goa.
The former judge has now said that the mining firms which have been allowed to illegally extract and export ore should be fined "exemplary" for the financial loss, loss to the environment, ecology, and punished for the wrongdoing.
Shah in his report, has also indicted the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF), state directorate of mines, the state forest department as well as the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for the illegal mining, which the report says was spread across over 500 hectares of area, several hundred acres of which was forest as well as government-owned land.
"Large scale mining, overexploitation of minerals would result in changes in the natural eco-system of the area. This will affect the tourism industry of the state. The impact of mining including illegal mining has already been felt. The IBM and MoEF have increased production without a proper justification and purely on commercial grounds, ignoring the impact of mining on protected areas, environment and eco-system," the report states in its critique.
The report, which was tabled in parliament Friday, also says that forest laws were completely flouted by the mining companies and even mines which were illegally functioning in forest areas were not stopped by the government authorities.
"All mining activities should be stopped with immediate effect, including transportation for all-mining leases where there is no approval or clearance of the Standing Committee of NBWL and are falling within 10 km of eco-sensitive buffer zone," Shah has recommended.
All major mining companies which includes Sesa Goa and companies run by the influential mining families in Goa namely the Timblos, Salgaonkar Chowgules, etc have been hauled up by the Shah Commission for illegalities in the mining sector.
The illegalities range from over exploitation of ore, environment violations, encroachment, etc.