Panaji, Oct 12 (IANS) Slamming environmentalists for repeatedly blocking development projects in the coastal state, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday, squarely blamed the shutdown of Goa’s mining industry on green activists.
“There are attempts to put obstacles before several projects. Goa’s most important industry – mining, has been shut down because of environmentalists. We do not know what is to be done with iron ore, which is in excess here, but we still have to import it,” Sawant said during a public interaction organised by a media platform in Mumbai.
The Chief Minister is currently in Maharashtra to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the state assembly elections.
Sawant also said, that it was unfortunate that iron ore had to be imported from other countries, when the raw material was lying idle in Goa itself, but could not be extracted, because of the ban on iron ore extraction imposed by the Supreme Court last year.
“This is unfortunate. It (iron ore) is right here, but it cannot be used. It has to be imported from Australia. In my own constituency there is a pig iron plant, the iron ore required for it is imported from Australia by Vedanta (Resources). The iron ore is lying right alongside the plant in form of a dump, but they cannot use it,” Sawant said.
The Supreme Court had banned all mining in 88 mining leases from March 2018, while also directing the state government to re-issue mining leases.
The is the second time in less than a decade that all mining in the state has come to a standstill. It was first banned in 2012, following the revelation of Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam which was unearthed by the Justice M. B. Shah Commission appointed by the state government.
Slamming local environmentalists for obstructing development projects, Sawant also said at the event, that green activists had created roadblocks vis a vis two major projects in Goa, namely the construction of a major bridge near Panaji and the upcoming Mopa International Airport.