Panaji: Expressing disappointment with their meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Goa Mining People’s Front has now threatened to take the battle to the ruling BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha and by-polls to two Assembly seats.
Speaking to IANS on Friday, Puti Gaonkar, President of the Front, said that it was apparent that the Prime Minister was not even briefed about the exact nuances about the mining crisis in the coastal state.
“We, as a front representing people affected by the mining ban, are very disappointed. Prime Minister did not even know the exact issue in detail, like the legal options available for resumption of mining. It appeared to us that he was not even briefed. It was a futile exercise meeting him,” Gaonkar said.
“The only advantage of meeting was that the mining ban issue got national attention,” he added.
“We are going to wait till the end of the Parliament session for the mining legislation – amendment to the MMDR act – to be passed and make way for mining to restart in Goa. If that does not happen, we will campaign against the BJP both in the Lok Sabha elections and the by-polls in Shiroda and Mandrem Assembly constituencies,” Gaonkar added.
The mining ban issue has been hanging fire ever since the Supreme Court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases in February last year. The apex court also directed the state government to re-issue mining leases.
The Front has demanded amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, which would allow renewal of the mining leases in the state. The MMDR Act as it stands now mandates auctioning of mining leases with major minerals.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Modi had assured the state BJP leaders and members of Parliament from the ruling party that he would look into ways to restart the mining industry in the state.
The Congress has dubbed the assurance by Modi as a “jumla” claiming the BJP was not keen on resuming mining in Goa and that the assurance was only given in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.