Prime Minister Narendra Modi has briefed the Union Cabinet about the mining crisis in Goa and asserted the need to resolve the issue on priority, Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik said on Sunday.
A delegation of mining dependents and MPs from Goa had last Wednesday met Modi in New Delhi over their demand for resumption of the iron ore extraction operations in the coastal state.
“After the delegation of Goa leaders and mining dependents met the prime minister, he chaired a Cabinet meeting where he briefed the members about the mining issue and asserted that we need to find a solution to it,” Naik told reporters on the sidelines of a government event near Panaji.
The mining operations, a key source of revenue to the government, came to a standstill in March last year following a Supreme Court order which quashed 88 mining leases. The BJP-led state government has requested the Centre to amend the existing mining laws during the ongoing session of Parliament so that leases get extended.
Naik said that a speedy solution to the mining crisis was not possible as the issue was “not within the Union government’s purview”. But, the government is on it and we will be able to find a solution by February 15, after the budget session of Parliament ends on February 13.
Reacting to a statement by Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) that it does not have much hope from the BJP, Naik said leaders of mining dependents should “stop misguiding the people”. The minister also ruled out the possibility of the mining issue impacting BJP’s prospects in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“Goa’s people know what we have done for them. We are indebted to the people of Goa who are responsible for the party’s growth. They will surely stand by the BJP during the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
The GMPF, an umbrella group of mining dependents – whose livelihood has been affected – had in December last year staged three-day protests in New Delhi demanding resumption of mining activities in the state.
GMPF president Puti Gaonkar had last week claimed that an amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act could revive the mining leases till 2037.