BJP govt under pressure to resolve mining ban issue

Bicholim, Dec 10 (TOI): With mining dependants gearing up for a three-day protest in the national capital beginning Tuesday, the state BJP leadership, which is facing the brunt of promising resumption of mining, is trying hard to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nod for an amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.

With Lok Sabha polls fast approaching, observers say the BJP is under tremendous pressure to get mining activities restarted in a bid to improve the party’s prospects. State party functionaries are in New Delhi attempting to convince their central leadership to find a solution. With the winter session starting on December 11, they are pushing for some announcement to be made within a week.

“Mining dependant people have started arriving in Delhi for the first national-level protest to impress upon the central government the need to restart mining in Goa”, said Goa Mining People’s Front president Puti Gaonkar. He told TOI that nearly 500 people have already arrived in Delhi while the others are en route by train. The protesters will assemble at New Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds on December 11 and 12, followed by a protest at Jantar Mantar on December 13, to demand resumption of mining in the state.

While political parties have pledged their support to the protesters, functionaries from the Goa Forward Party (GFP) are expected to join the protesters at Ramlila Grounds on Tuesday while Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) functionaries will show their solidarity with them on Thursday. It is unclear when delegations from the Congress and BJP will join.

Gaonkar is hopeful of a positive decision by the central government. On Friday, he called on Union commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, who was in Panaji for a Global Venture Capital Summit, and sought his assistance. Prabhu assured Gaonkar that he would to seek an appointment with the prime minister so that the stakeholders could impress upon him the need for an early solution to the mining imbroglio, Gaonkar said. North Goa MP and union Ayush minister Shripad Naik is also said to be trying to get an appointment with Modi.