PM Narendra Modi expresses concern over Goa mining impasse

Panaji/New DelhiPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday assured a delegation of lawmakers and representatives of the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) that the Central government will try to find a solution to the mining impasse in the state within the “four corners of the law”. The delegation met Modi at the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar said, adding that no time-frame for finding the solution has been given.

During the 10-minute meeting with the Goa delegation, Modi “expressed his concern” over the impasse, which occurred after the Supreme Court banned mining in the coastal state in February last year, said Sawaikar, who is also the spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Goa unit. “The Prime Minister said a solution will be found within the four corners of the law, since the situation has arisen out of the apex court’s judgement,” he said.

Apart from Sawaikar, the delegation included Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, state BJP President and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar and GMPF president Puti Gaonkar, among others. Reacting to the development, the Congress said that Modi has merely paid lip service to the demand and that the BJP is not keen on restarting mining operations in Goa. Speaking to reporters, All India Congress Committee secretary in-charge of Goa A. Chellakumar said that the BJP — both at the Centre as well as in the state — are not serious about resumption of mining in Goa. “If they had to try, they would have done so months ago. This is just a drama which they are enacting ahead of the Lok Sabha election,” Chellakumar said.

The mining ban issue has been hanging fire ever since the Supreme Court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases in February last year. The apex court also directed the state government to re-issue mining leases. The GMPF was lobbying for the resumption of mining for the last few weeks and stepped up its agitation by pressurising the BJP lawmakers for an appointment with the Prime Minister and press for a resolution to the crisis.

Goa’s mining belt straddles across several Assembly constituencies and support from the voters from these areas is key to electoral success in the coming Lok Sabha election. During a video interaction with the party workers in Goa last month, Modi had assured that the Central government is looking for a “judicial solution” to the mining impasse.


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