"The Supreme Court judgment in Goa's mining illegalities case, they argue, has provided the Goa government with a unique opportunity to set right the misdeeds of previous governments and start on a clean slate."
Panaji, July 11 - Four Padma award winners from Goa have written to Chief Minster Manohar Parrikar, asking him to create a permanent iron ore fund for the state.

They said 100 percent revenues earned by the state government from mining can be stored in the fund for posterity, instead of spending the money on day-to-day expenses.

Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, academic and writer Maria Aurora Couto, lawyer-activist Norma Alvares and educationist Suresh Amonkar - all Padma Shri awardees from the state - wrote the letter.

They also asked the state government to set right all the misdeeds of previous governments and start on the clean slate as far as the state's corruption and scandal-ridden mining sector is concerned.

While lauding an initiative in a recent Supreme Court judgment to set aside 10 percent of the state earnings from the mining sector into a 'Permanent Iron Ore Fund', they have asked the state government to scale the contribution to 100 percent.

We feel that 10 percent contribution from the asset sale is too small a sum to be the basis on which such a fund should be installed. No doubt the Supreme Court has suggested the very minimum.

But the state government can definitely increase the contribution such that a sizeable monetary asset is created in a short time, the Padma quartet have written in their letter to Parrikar.

Mining in Goa was banned in 2012 soon after a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam was unearthed by a judicial commission. The ban was lifted by the apex court in April this year, which has also rendered all existing mining leases illegal.

The court has also asked the government to formulate a mining policy before restarting actual mining operation in Goa. At the height of the mining boom, the state government extracted over 50 million metric tonnes of iron ore annually.

The Padma Shri award winners argued that several countries across the world were diverting 100 per cent of the government receipts from natural resources like oil and ore into such funds.

They are permitting themselves the use of only the interest from such funds (after adjusting for inflation and taxes).

The Padma winners added that none of the countries which have instituted such a fund utilises the monies for day-to-day expenses.

Taking on the mining lobby, the Padma winners said data present in the public domain has shown that Goa anyway was receiving a very small fraction of the value of the iron/manganese ore from mining operations carried out by private miners over the past several years.

They asked the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition government to put things in the mining sector in place.

The Supreme Court judgment in Goa's mining illegalities case, they argue, has provided the Goa government with a unique opportunity to set right the misdeeds of previous governments and start on a clean slate.

We are expecting that the mining scenario, whenever it resumes, will be considerably different from the past in the light of this judgement, they wrote in the letter.


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