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Centre acts on Goa mining leases

Panaji, Sept. 12 (PTI): The Centre today suspended environment clearances to all 93 mining leases in Goa pending verification in the wake of the Shah commission report that said permission had been given based on wrong data.

The mine owners will have to submit documents required for getting clearance, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said.

In its report on illegal mining in Goa, the Justice M.B. Shah Commission had said the environmental clearances were given based on erroneous data.

Natarajan said ministry officials issued the clearances without verifying the data submitted by the state government. She said she would go into every aspect of the clearances granted and action would be taken against any official found guilty. “We will see that he is punished according to the law.”

Two days after the Shah commission report was tabled in Parliament on September 7, the state government had suspended all leases and asked mine owners to approach the directorate of mines and geology with proper documents.

According to Natarajan, the action by the Manohar Parrikar government was a “complete whitewash” and a “fraud” on the people. “Under which act has he suspended the permissions for all the 93 mining leases?” she asked.

On Parrikar’s statement that FIRs would be filed against two former Congress chief ministers, she said the chief minister was involved in “political witch hunt”.

Natarajan said though the commission had “referred” to her ministry in its report, “we were never heard. Therefore, it was not possible for us to present our fact(s) before the commission.”