New Delhi: Former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has been indicted by a judicial commission for allowing illegal mining to continue unabated in the state resulting in amassing of wealth by certain individuals and companies at the cost of environment.

The Justice M B Shah Commission, which went into the issue of illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in Goa, cited instances of abuse of power by Kamat, who held the Mines portfolio over a 10-year period from 2002 in three governments, two headed by the Congress and one by the BJP.

The Commission also found "total lack of coordination" in different wings of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests which "resulted in illegalities and consequential ecological damage."

The Shah Commission Report, along with the Action Taken Memorandum, was tabled in Parliament today by Union Mines Minister Dinsha Patel.

The Commission has found several orders passed by Kamat including on application for condonation of delay in renewal of mining lease as "against the law" and "abuse of power" as the Central Government is the ultimate authority in this regard.

The report has also come down heavily on Kamat for ignoring complaints about the destruction caused by illegal mining in the coastal state.

"It is amply clear that the Minister of Mines and Chief Minister (Kamat) were well aware about non-compliance of conditions and other illegalities/irregularities happening in the mining sector," the report said.

The 434-report said that complaints regarding water pollution, pollution of natural streams, rivers, ponds, agriculture destruction and failure of horticulture crops were well known to the entire state administration.

"But no inspection had been carried out which resulted into a fear-free environment which has caused loss to the ecology, environment, agricultural, ground water, natural streams, ponds, rivers, biodiversity, etc," it said.

The Commission also suggested that mining leases be granted through public auction to reduce corruption.

After holding several hearings and inspections in the state, the Commission has observed that natural resources, mostly iron ore, have made a few persons holding leasehold mining interests for decades as billionaires.

"It is necessary that leasehold rights for mining are granted by public auction. This would increase the income of the State and also there would be transparency in grant of lease and reduction in corruption/favouritism."

Union Mines Ministry, in its Action Taken Report, has said the issue of public auction of leases has been included in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011 which has been referred to a Parliamentary panel.

The Commission found that "all modes of illegal mining" as stated in its terms of reference, were being committed in Goa.

The report maintained that during the last five years, the Directorate of Mines and Geology (DMG) had not held inspection of the mining leases. It held that there is a "total collapse" of fabrics of monitoring and regulatory mechanism in the state.

(Agencies)

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