PMO will do 'everything' possible to re-start Goa mining

Panaji, June 13 (IANS) The Prime Minister's Office will do everything possible to ensure that mining, currently banned in Goa on a Supreme Court ruling, is resumed in the state at the earliest, an aide of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Thursday.

A Goa government official said Thursday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed regret over the plight of people affected by the ban on mining since September last year.

"The prime minister stated that he was aware of the problems caused by the mining ban, and would do everything in his power to have legal mining commenced within the four corners of law," the official said.

Parrikar has also sought a Rs.3,000-crore relief package for mining and allied industry stakeholders, which he has said would help them tide over the crisis caused by the ban.

The official said that Manmohan Singh had assured Parrikar that he would speak to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to find a way to grant the relief package.

"On the issue of efforts to commence legal mining, the prime minister has assured us that necessary instructions would be issued to the concerned ministries to coordinate with the government of Goa before the Supreme Court," the official said.

The ban on mining follows a petition filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan along with a local NGO, who claimed that not much had been done to probe and bring to book those responsible for a Rs.25,000-crore illegal mining scam in Goa.

A judicial commission appointed by the union mines ministry had unearthed the multi-crore scam in which politicians, bureaucrats as well as mining companies are allegedly involved.

Parrikar met Manmohan Singh in New Delhi Wednesday evening, along with an all-party delegation, with a string of demands. Among the demands were special status for Goa and the rehabilitation package for those whose livelihood was affected because of the mining ban.

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