Categories: Editorial

Give No Public Money To Mining Dependents

UNION Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has ruled out the possibility of adopting any short cuts, including promulgating an ordinance to bypass the Supreme Court order  to restart mining in the state.  Taking his statement as central government view, it is clear that auction of the mining leases is the only way to restart mining. Gadkari’s stance left the mining companies and the truck and barge owners not too pleased, as auction will take a long time to be set up. Clearly, resumption of mining could take an indefinite amount of time. The process for auctioning of the mining leases can be a long drawn one. Many systems need to be set up and many approvals need to be obtained. The central government will need to give approvals, including environmental clearances which alone could take years. And there is no guarantee that the same Goan companies that have been in the mining business for decades would win the auction bids. There is a very good chance that auction will attract big players. Although the iron ore found in Goa is of low grade in which certain countries and certain industries have been interested, big players could leverage their better organizational structure and resources to extract and market it.

One idea that has been thrown up is of the state government setting up a mining corporation to take over mining. However, the concept is very vague. Will such a mining corporation have its own engineers, technicians, staff and machinery to operate mines? Or will it just declare itself as the owner of the mining leases and contract the leases out to private mining companies? In the first option, the government will have to find money to run the operations on its own, which does not possible in the near term. The second option could mean an indirect way of leasing to the same companies, which might not be acceptable to the apex court.

However, the silver lining is that the state government has assured to take the opinion of top lawyers of the Supreme Court and the central government has assured to help with consultation with attorney general of India K K Venugopal to find out whether the mines that did not come under the ambit of the SC order could be operationalised. In addition, the state government is going to find ways to help the affected population.  The truck and barge owners want government to bail them out of their bank debts. They also want the government to give them money to offset loss of their income till the time mining resumes in the state. The demand for financial package once again could trigger criticism of the government. When the earlier shutdown owing to massive illegal mining took place the government helped the truck and barge owners in a very substantial way. The banks also agreed to make a one-time settlement. However, the government cannot do it again. If it does, it has to do for every group of people affected by an economic disruption. They will cite the example of the barge and truck owners and demand similar financial package. The government will go bankrupt if it goes on giving every section a financial package.

There is a case no doubt for helping re-generate employment for all those who have lost their livelihood due to mining shutdown. Usually, in the era of free enterprise, no corporate entity or government is obliged to take care of those rendered unemployed by closure of an industry or an industrial activity.  However, as the government has a responsibility to look after people, they must find ways to help them make a living. It is very likely that the MLAs from the mining areas would put pressure on the state government to help the barge and truck owners with a financial package. The cabinet advisory committee has to take a tough decision to resist these pressures. The truck and barge owners should not be allowed to take money from the public treasury to pay off their debts. They are in business and business has hazards. They should be able to bear the downs of their economic activity as much as they enjoyed the ups of it. After all, they were a party to the massive illegal mining. They never raised their voice against illegal activities. Had they red flagged it, they would have won the sympathy of the people. Being a part of illegal mining and transportation they ceased to deserve any sympathy. What they did to the common people on Monday in Panaji has further caused loss of sympathy for them.

nt

Comments are closed.

Share
Published by
nt

Recent Posts

  • Goa News

State rolls up its sleeves for gruelling vote count

Panaji/Margao: Vote counting on May 23 will be a gruelling task, which could spill into  the next day delaying the…

21 hours ago
  • Goa News

Foolproof security for vote count

Panaji: Security has been beefed up at the strongrooms (where EVMs are stored) and  counting centres in Panaji and Margao,…

21 hours ago
  • Goa News

What a feat! 92.47% students clear SSC exam

Panaji: The  SSC  examination conducted by the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education  recorded the  highest pass percentage…

21 hours ago
  • Goa News

JERC not on the same page with govt on power tariff

Panaji: The government’s decision to avoid hiking electricity tariffs in the face of increasing demand for power in the state…

21 hours ago
  • Goa News

Pauskar assures regular water supply

Panaji: Public Works Minister Deepak Prabhu Pauskar on Tuesday  directed the all executive engineers of the PWD to ensure that…

21 hours ago
  • Goa News

Shrinivas has admirable role at US varsity

Well-known Goan industrialist and philanthropist SHRINIVAS DEMPO, who is a 1995 MBA graduate of the Tepper School of Business from…

22 hours ago