Third Front will nationalise Goa’s mining industry: Bardhan

Panaji, April 21 (Inditop) If the Third Front comes to power at the centre after the Lok Sabha polls, it will nationalise the Rs.6,000-crore mining industry of Goa, which is largely at the hands of private players, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) said Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters here, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said his party, a key Third Front constituent, had always opposed mining by private firms and that nationalisation of mining was the only way ahead.

Bardhan, who is in the state to campaign for CPI candidates Christopher Fonseca in North Goa and Raju Mangeshkar in South Goa, said: “We will actively pursue nationalisation of mines in Goa, if we come to power.”

“Mining should not be oriented towards exports alone. We should also utilise the resources. Or else, other countries will keep stock piling ore for future use,” said the CPI leader.

Tourism apart, mining for low grade iron ore and manganese is one of the principal industries in the state, fetching nearly Rs.6,000 crore revenue from exporting the ore to countries like China and Japan.

The mining industry Goa has been dominated by private players ever since large tracts of land in the interior north eastern and south western forests were leased out to private individuals for mining by the colonial Portuguese rulers.

The leases were later inherited by the present-day descendants. At present, there are 100 mining leases in Goa, most of which are operated by powerful families like the Dempos, Salgaonkars and Timblos.

The 100 mines export nearly 30 million tonnes of iron ore annually.

Bardhan’s statement comes at a time, when several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and environmental groups are protesting against the rampant destruction of environment and quality of life in the state’s mining belt.