Mining lobby attacks Goa governor for ignoring their plight

Panaji, Jan 30 (IANS) The mining lobby Wednesday attacked Goa Governor Bharat Veer Wanchoo, calling him an "agent" of the central government and accusing him of being callous to those affected by the ban on iron ore mining in Goa.

Lobbyists seeking revocation of the ban on iron ore mining in the state spoke to reporters after Wanchoo "snubbed" the pro-mining lobby protestors who have been camping near the Martyrs' Memorial here for the last two weeks.

On Wednesday morning, the governor and other leading political dignitaries, including Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, arrived at the memorial in the capital to pay their tributes to Goa's freedom fighters. However, the governor returned to Raj Bhavan without speaking to protestors at the site.

"He did not have the courtesy to address us. We have been protesting here for the last two weeks. The governor is not concerned about the sufferings of the people of his state," Communist Party of India (CPI) state general secretary Cristopher Fonseca told reporters here.

Fonseca heads the Goa Mining Affected People's Front, which is protesting the loss of jobs caused by the Supreme Court-imposed mining ban.

Fonseca also said that the Goa government was not taking convincing steps to resolve the mining crisis in the state.

"It has been four months since the ban has been in place. The government has not given a single convincing argument to the Supreme Court to ensure that the ban is removed," Fonseca said.

Fonseca's comments come only a couple of days after the governor, in his inaugural address to the Goa legislative assembly, said that the Manohar Parrikar-led state government was working to introduce a financial package for people living in the mining belt, who had lost employment due to the mining ban.

The package involves giving out monthly dole to the tune of Rs.6,000 per head to those who have lost their mining jobs.

The dole, however, has been criticised by the Opposition, which has said that instead of dishing out money, the state government should crack down on mining companies to ensure that workers are not laid off without any pressing reason.

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