The “hurried renewal” of 88 mining leases in Goa by the BJP-led coalition government was a huge scam, a top official of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the State said on Wednesday.”This scam is much bigger than the ₹ 35,000 crore illegal mining scam exposed in 2012 by the judicial commission headed by Justice (retd.) MB Shah,” AAP Goa State Convenor Elvis Gomes alleged on Wednesday, demanding a probe into the entire lease-renewal process.AAP’s response came soon after the Supreme Court earlier in the day cancelled all existing iron ore mining leases in Goa and ordered that the leases should be auctioned to new licencees after obtaining fresh environmental clearances. The court said that mining activity will be allowed only till 2018 in the present form.”The Justice M.B. Shah Commission had exposed a ₹ 35,000 crore illegal mining scam. There was no action on it by the government. The hurried renewal of 89 mining leases, before the Central act which made auctioning of leases mandatory, is an even bigger scam.“It is shameful for the government. There should be probe into how the leases were renewed. I congratulate the Goa Foundation [petitioner],” Mr. Gomes told the press.Goa exported over 50 million tons of ore annually, before the Shah Commission report implicated government agencies associated with mining of iron ore and exports and also nearly all major mining industrial houses in the scam, along with the then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat (of the Congress party) and key bureaucrats.Iron ore extraction in Goa was subsequently banned by the State and Central governments and eventually by a final ban by the Supreme Court in 2012 on extraction and export.However, after the apex court lifted the ban partially in over a year with an annual cap of 20 million tons of ore extraction for the State’s mining industry, the subsequent BJP-led coalition government in 2014-15 renewed the mining leases in favour of the same mining companies accused by the Shah Commission of illegal mining.This action of the government was challenged in the court by Goa Foundation, and it had finally reached the Supreme Court.
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