Mining ban forces Goa to double industrial estate units

Panaji, Dec 3 (IANS) The Goa government is in overdrive to attract new industries to Goa, even as the Supreme Court-enforced ban on mining in Goa nears two months.

According to Industries Minister Mahadev Naik, the state government was looking to up the number of small to big industrial estates from 20 to 40, in a bid to ensure that people dependant on mining in Goa are not left jobless.

"Setting up new industrial estates is the need of the hour. We are looking to start one industrial estate in every constituency," Naik told reporters here Monday.

There are 40 assembly constituencies in Goa, but the industrial estates are presently located in places in the hinterland and away from coastal Goa.

Naik said that the ban on mining could be telling on the several thousand people dependant on the industry like truck owners, mechanics, bulldozer operators, and technicians who would be rendered jobless if the ban persisted.

"We have to overcome the crisis of the moment which is unemployment caused due to the mining ban," he said.

The Supreme Court ban in October, follows a public interest litigation filed by civil society activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who used data from an explosive report by Justice M.B. Shah, that has exposed a Rs.35,000 crore mining scam in the state.

The industries minister also said that the Goa government was tinkering with a policy, which aimed at deterring migrant labour from coming into the state.

"It is a step we have to take because of the conditions right now. As per the forthcoming industrial policy, we will try to ensure that we will not have too many migrants coming into Goa," Naik said.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is already looking to work a consensus over a possible freeze in in-migration numbers in the state, which he said is essential to ensure the unique identity of the state.

The upcoming industrial policy is likely to put an emphasis on non-polluting and non-labour intensive sectors like moderate-sized IT and ITES firms, pharmaceuticals and tourism related industries.

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