Panaji, Jan 25 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “scared” of visiting Goa because he is afraid of the wrath of the state’s pro-mining lobby which has been betrayed by the ruling BJP, both in the state as well as the Centre, Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar stated on Friday.
“Modi was supposed to be inaugurating the new bridge over the Mandovi river. But he has backed out on numerous occasions, because he cannot see our mining dependents, who have been begging them to restart mining in Goa, eye to eye. He is scared of them,” Kawthankar said.
The new bridge, the third across the Mandovi river, has been built at a cost of approximately Rs 500 crore, and is scheduled to be inaugurated by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on January 27.
The bridge was earlier scheduled to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on January 12, but the scheduled ceremony was called off in view of the national convention of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which overlapped with the bridge inauguration date.
The mining ban issue has been hanging fire in Goa, ever since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from February last year, while also directing the state government to re-issue mining leases.
BJP leaders both at the state as well as in the Central government had assured mining workers and other dependents like mining truck and barge operators — a key vote base of the BJP — that necessary amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act would be carried out in the recently concluded winter session of Parliament.
After the promised amendments failed to come through, Modi, during an interaction with party workers last week, had said that the Central government was working on a “judicial solution” to restart the mining industry in Goa, an assurance which the Congress appears to be unwilling to buy.
“The BJP government has been doling out false promises to mining dependents for years now. If “judicial solution” is the way out, why wasn’t this done immediately after the Supreme Court’s ban order in February 2018? Why is the PM talking about it 11 months later,” Kawthankar said.