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Goa residents stage protest against mining ban in state

Seeking relaxation of the Supreme Court imposed mining ban in Goa, hundreds of affected people from the state have held a two day protest at Jantar Mantar here. The protest was organised by Goa Mining People's Front (GMPF) — an umbrella organisation created by mining ban affected people. According to protesters, the ban, imposed since September, has taken away their means of life.

'4 lakh people of Goa, constituting more than 30 per cent of the state's population, are  directly dependent on mining industry for their livelihood... The people dependent on mining are facing great distress and penury,' said a representation of GMPF, addressed to Prime Minister and other ministers.

Political leaders including Gurudas Dasgupta, A B Bardhan and Prakash Javadekar joined their protest. Representatives of GMPF also met a host of top leaders, including Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Mines Minister Dinsha Patel and Opposition Leader Arun Jaitley seeking their support. Christopher Fonseca, a leading member of GMPF, claimed that Mines Minister Patel assured them that coordinated action will be taken so that the ban order can get revoked as early as possible and the mines, cleared of any wrong doings, can become operational once again.

Quoting a recent statement of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, he said that out of 90 mines in Goa, 66 have been cleared of wrong doings and they can immediately begin production, if permitted.

The GMPF has also sought a one-time Rs 5,000 crore package for the state. In February, the GMPF members had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to present their case of lifting the ban. Mining in iron ore rich Goa is banned since September last year after a report of Justice M B Shah Commission, which is probing illegal mining issues in the country, pegged nearly Rs 35,000 core losses to exchequer due to illegal mining in Goa.

The report had led to state government putting a temporary ban on mining in September last year. Later, in October, 2012, the Supreme Court had put a blanket ban on mining and transportation of the minerals while hearing a PIL.


‘GREEN MAFIA’ STALLING 276 OF 566 PROJECTS

As many as 276 projects of 566 projects that are under monitoring of Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry are delayed due to a host of issues, including environment clearances. Among 276 projects, 43 projects are held up due to pendign environment and forest clearances, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Kumar Jena said on Friday.

'As of 1 January 2013, of a total of 566 projects on the monitor, 276 projects were delayed with respect to their original commissioning dates. In these 276 projects, delay in clearances relating to environment and forest were reported by the project implementing agencies in 43 projects,' Jena said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Of these 43 projects held up due to environmental and forest clearances as many as 15 projects are of road transport and highways sector, 10 in coal sector, 8 each in railways and power sector and 2 projects in petroleum sector.

Jena said his ministry monitors central sector infrastructure projects costing Rs 150 crore and above on time and cost overruns. The monitoring is done on the basis of information supplied by the project implementing agencies, he said.

He said the government, however, has taken a number of measures to ensure timely completion of projects including rigorous project appraisal, on-line computerised system, setting up to standing committees in the ministries for fixation of responsibility for time and cost overruns.

Besides, steps like regular review of infrastructure projects by administrative ministries concerned, setting up of Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to review and monitor implementation of major projects, including issues relating to clearances or approvals are also taken.
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