Panaji, March 6 (IANS) Goa BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral on Tuesday said Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has apologised for making disparaging remarks to a multi-party delegation of MLAs from the state which had gone to Delhi on the mining leases issue.
The delegation, which included MLAs from the Congress, the BJP, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Independents, was in Delhi to lobby for the renewal of 88 mining leases to the existing lease holders, over auctioning them.
Cabral was responding to reports in local newspapers on Tuesday which stated that Goyal had warned the delegation not to join cause with the lease-holding mining companies.
He had reportedly said that auctioning was the only route for legal resumption of mining operations in the state which are scheduled to come to a close from March 16, following a Supreme Court order.
Explaining the course of events on Monday, when members of the delegation met Goyal in the Rajya Sabha in the presence of other leaders, Cabral told the media here: “When the meeting was on, Goyal came in and sat down as he had some work.
“In the course of the conversation, he said ‘if someone supports this (renewal of mines), it will end up like Coalgate (scam)’.”
“…we had not only come to explain the economic position of Goa. We explained to him what exactly the mining sector is like in Goa. He got convinced and he said he will also take up the matter. He apologised for his statement,” Cabral said.
In a memorandum to Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari, the delegation — which included Public Works Department Minister Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane (BJP), Speaker Pramod Sawant, Congress MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar and others — has sought that the mining leases in Goa be renewed by 20 years, instead of being issued afresh.
The delegation is also expected to meet Union Minister for Mines Narendra Singh Tomar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday.
In its order last month, the apex court had ordered stoppage of mining activity in 88 mining leases in Goa from March 16 and directed the state government to issue fresh leases, after completing the necessary environment related formalities.