Panaji: Goa's 96 iron ore mining leases should be auctioned instead of being merely renewed, in the spirit of an apex court judgment in the 2G spectrum scam trial which makes a case for auctioning of national resources, the Congress demanded Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference here, state Congress spokesperson Sudip Tamankar said that Goa's coffers, which have been strained due to the ban on mining, would earn over Rs.300 lakh crore over 20 years of the lease period.
"All the 96 mining leases should be auctioned on the lines of the telecom spectrum auction so that Goa stands to benefit financially. They should not just be renewed," Tamankar said.
"In the 2G telecom scam case, the Supreme Court has said that all national resources should be auctioned to the highest bidder. The same should be followed here. Iron ore is a national resource. The right to extract it should be auctioned," he said.
Tamankar added that auctioning of the mining leases would not only ensure that Goa has a hefty sum in its coffers, but also break the monopoly of four or five mining companies which have been controlling open cast iron ore mining in Goa for decades now.
"Why should only four or five mining companies control the mining industry in Goa? Let more players come in and let the industry be a level playing field," he said.
Mining has been banned in Goa for over four months now after the Supreme Court, hearing a petition filed by activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, announced a probe by a central empowered committee into Goa's Karnataka-like illegal mining scandal.
The petition follows the revelation of a Rs.35,000 crore illegal scam exposed by a judicial commission headed by Justice M.B.Shah who has said that top mining companies, politicians as well as bureaucrats were beneficiaries of the scam.
Goa has 336 mining leases spread across the hinterland, of which nearly 100 were operational until the ban came into effect in October 2012. All the operational mining leases are renewable after a period of 20 years.