The Goa Mining Scam goes right to the top at the doors of Dr Manmohan Singh – India’s Prime Minister. GoaChronicle.com through this expose brings to its readers how the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued Environmental Clearances of 15 mines within 10 km from the Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in direct violation of a Supreme Court Order at a time when the PM was in-charge of MoEF…
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India held the portfolio of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) from May 17th 2007 till May 29th 2009 – a period after A Raja and before Jairam Ramesh took over the reins of MoEF. He was assisted by two Ministers of State – Nano Narian Meena from Congress and S Raghupathy from DMK.
The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in its report had noted that pursuant to the Supreme Court order dated February 14th, 2000 in Writ Petition (Civil) No 202/1995 and subsequent orders mining, including the mining leases which were granted earlier, within the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries is prohibited. The MoEF in view of the orders of the SC has consistently taken a stand that mining (and other non-forest uses) is not permissible within the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries. The MoEF on this regard had issued a circular dates May 4th 2001 (copy attached to the expose), advising state governments not to submit proposals for diversions of forest land in National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries without seeking prior permission of the SC. Notwithstanding the above the MoEF has granted ECs in respect of at least 19 mining leases located within the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and other sanctuaries in the state
Interestingly the CEC had filed a report in March 30, 2009 before the SC (with regards to this buffer zone SC case) regarding the deletion of mining leases areas from the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and it stated gross misuse and abuse of the provision of law to facilitate back-door entry for mining after the permission sought by the State of Goa to exclude a large chunk of areas from Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary was rejected by SC and that such exclusion of areas from the sanctuary for mining will compromise its integrity leaving the sanctuary like a moth eaten map and will de-facto nullify the orders of the SC.
Out of the 19 mining leases that we granted ECs by the MoEF of the SC direction, 16 of the ECs were granted during the period of May 17th 2007 and May 29th 2009, when Dr Manmohan Singh held the MoEF portfolio.
GoaChronicle.com has attached the list of the 19 mines that received MoEF clearances (in PDF document).
The question GoaChronicle.com is raising is that while being the Union Minister of Environment and Forests while the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh take blame for allowing such illegalities to take place in violation of the Supreme Court order, or will this too be passed to another employee or bureaucrat in the MoEF.