Goa villagers, protesting against illegal transportation of iron ore from a site, Tuesday demanded an apology from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for the arrest of 34 protestors, including women and an 85-year-old man.
Submitting a memorandum of demands to Prasanna Acharya, director for mines and geology, Abhijit Prabhudessai, a spokesperson for the protestors from Cavrem village, said the local residents should be allowed to peruse through the files related to e-auctioning of the iron ore from the site. Cavrem village is located over 50 km from the state capital Panaji.
"There was no government official present during the transportation of the e-auctioned ore. No one knows how much ore is being lifted. There is no clarity about the amount of ore which is being taken from the mining site," Prabhudessai said. Just before lifting the ban on mining last month, the Supreme Court allowed the sale of extracted iron ore by e-auction to the highest bidders. One of the lots of the ore was situated in Cavrem, which was at the centre-stage of the illegal mining scam.
The auctioned ore is being extracted from the site which was operated by a firm run by Dinar Tarcar, a local businessman, who was indicted in a Public Accounts Committee report for illegal mining. Tarcar also contested the 2012 state assembly election on behalf of a regional party, which is now a part of the ruling BJP-led coalition government.
While meeting a delegation of villagers, Acharya said a data entry operator from a government-operated electronics company was posted at weigh bridges to check the quantum of ore transported. "We also have a mechanism to track the trucks carrying the ore and the amount which was being carried," Acharya said.
"The villagers demand the right to inspect all the files and receive certified copies, pertaining to the e-auction of the ore, subsequent movement of the ore from the mine dumps and the wrong imprisonment of Cavrem villagers," said the memorandum submitted to the director. On May 9, 34 villagers protesting against the indiscriminate transportation of ore were arrested.