48, 000 cr went into pockets of few mining
companies' - Exclusive interview with Dr Claude
Alvares in Herald (March 16)
Posted on Goanet | roger
dsouza rdsg2000 at gmail.com | Mon Mar 17 2014
*Rs 48,000 cr went into pockets of few mining
Note 1 cr ~ $184,000 Can
Rs 48,000 cr ~ $8.8 billion Can
*DR CLAUDE ALVARES, director of the action group Goa
Foundation, has built a never- say- die reputation
for taking up environment causes, spending much of
the last 25 years in and out of the courts. *
*In this exclusive and exhaustive interview with
DEVIKA SEQUEIRA, his first since the Supreme Court
banned mining in Goa after the non- profit filed a
petition for action on the Shah Commission findings,
Alvares delves into the complexity of the mining
issue in Goa, the future of the industry, and what
he thinks should be the way forward for the state
which has relied so heavily on iron ore exports in
the past. *
*Given the public engagement with the mining debate,
Herald Review is giving the interview as much space
*‘ Rs 48,000 cr went into pockets of few mining
Post monsoon, it would be two years since the ban on
iron ore mining in Goa came into effect. A recent
Reuters report said the Goa ban and the clampdown on
exports from Karnataka have cut the country’s iron
exports by 85 per cent— or 100 million tonnes— and
have cost India more than $ 17 billion in foreign
exchange earnings. What is the way out of the
current impasse? The way out will come only with the
judgement of the Supreme Court. The Expert Committee
which is going to recommend the quantum of ore that
could be removed on annual basis from Goa— without
damage to its environment or society— would have
submitted its report to the court on March 14.
This report will be taken up by the apex court for
consideration on March 24.
Thereafter we expect that the court will issue its
judgement, and only then will the situation become
clear. Till that time all discussions are only
But isn’t the export of iron ore a valid economic
activity? Why do you favour a ban? India’s exports
were constantly overstated, as much of the mining in
Karnataka, Orissa and Goa was illegal, and these
exports should not have happened.
However, Goa has not lost anything due to the
stoppage, because the ore is still in the ground and
is still worth that much. Or probably more. We can
take it out whenever we want.
Serious challenge to exports of ore has come from
the Lok Sabha’s Standing Committee on Coal and Steel
in its report of August 2013. The committee has
members from all parties, yet it has come to a
unanimous conclusion that exports must be banned.
The committee concluded that India has iron ore
stocks to last only for 40 years based on usable
reserves of 18 billion tonnes.
If there is large scale growth in the iron ore and
steel industries, the same stock will be adequate
for only 25 years.
What about the argument that we should make the most
of the current demand from China for Goan ore? China
has 200 billion tonnes ore stocks. So why are they
importing ours? Why are we exporting ours? Few
people ask these questions. Mining companies the
least. The government of course always acts as if it
has no brains. It is common knowledge that exporting
a finished product like iron and steel brings more
money and jobs than exporting a basic commodity like
ore. Exporting ore, in fact, is exporting jobs and
added value. The Chinese need to be starved of ore,
since their industrial production has become a major
threat to the health of the planet and China’s
citizens. It therefore does not disturb me that
instead of sending ore to China for its industrial
development, we are now deciding about keeping the
ore for ourselves and for our own children.
The Goa Chief Minister appears to hold
environmentalists squarely responsible for the
He said in his budget speech that the state was
“being pushed into an economic turmoil of human
making”. The state’s GDP is down 20 per cent because
of the mining shut down, Mr Parrikar says.
Holding environmentalists responsible is ridiculous.
Who started illegal mining which he as chairman of
PAC documented with zest and which he said involved
a theft of Rs 3,500 cr? Do environmentalists own
mines and do illegal mining? Do truck owners do
illegal mining? Such statements are meant only for
the media. They do not disturb me in the least.
In fact, the chief minister has held, at one time or
the other, environmentalists, the Supreme Court,
traders, the Congress party, everyone, responsible
for the mining situation he faces. We all know
however that the first order to suspend mining in
the state was issued by his government on September
10, 2012 and on the same day and the next, his
Collectors issued orders prohibiting road transport
of iron ore in the entire state. This was done after
the revelations of the Shah Commission Report.
Obviously he was seriously disturbed by it, because
it more or less confirmed his own earlier findings.
Since the Shah Commission findings have largely been
confirmed by the subsequent report of the Central
Empowered Committee, it appears that there were very
good grounds for taking the action that the CM did.
The Supreme Court has in fact expressed approval of
that decision and rejected any challenges to it.
What about the argument that the state’s economy has
been badly hit? The CM is not an economist, so maybe
he does not understand what the real state of the
economy is. As per his budget speech that the state
was being pushed into economic turmoil, the same
speech provides contrary data. First of all he
reports a GDP growth rate above 8 per cent in the
last two years which is above the 5 per cent growth
rate of the country as a whole and far better than
the 1 per cent or minus 1 per cent GDP of some of
the industrialized countries. Having a growth rate
of 8 per cent and above is something very remarkable
and he should take the credit for it. This growth
rate has come without recourse to mining. I am
therefore perplexed that instead of taking credit
for running one of the most successful economies on
the planet, he is saying the economy is in a state
of turmoil! It is obviously because the state has
adequate funds that he is able to set aside funds
for purchasing the debt of truck owners and
providing subsidies to taxi operators. He could not
have done this if he didn’t have the money.
But the government keeps harping on the loss of the
Rs 1000 cr or so it was getting from mining royalty.
Mr Parrikar forgets that the Rs 900 cr from mining
royalties which went into the state budget in 2009-
2010 and 2010- 2011 came because of the pressure of
the Orissa government for increase in royalty.
Before that, the Goa government had never asked for
increase in royalty and was satisfied with annual
measly royalty of not more than Rs 30 cr. Income
from iron ore sale is not revenue in a conventional
sense. It is money that we get from sale of our
permanent assets, like our gold. So to claim that
the State’s GDP went down by 20 per cent is only
partly correct. It went down because it was
artificially inflated by excess mining and windfall
gains. All that extra growth did not go to Goans but
to mining companies. Nearly half of it went to one
company, Sesa Goa, which is controlled by Anil
Agarwal in London. So it was only that part of the
state GDP which was going to the wrong persons that
has come down.
The government has also argued that it is in fact
the “mining dependent” ( over 150,000 people,
directly or indirectly involved in the sector
according to official data) who are paying the
heaviest price for the closure of the mines, and not
the rich mining barons.
I agree. The worst hit are those who made the
maximum investments in the industry in good faith. I
know truck owners who sank their gold and VRS into
trucks. They were not protected.
They are being given doles when they need protection
from harassment and rightful assistance. I do not
feel that the mining dependent persons have been
treated with any respect by the present government.
We have insisted that their debt should be purchased
at discount, an idea which Mr Parrikar has borrowed
now in the budget and we have also demanded that the
losses suffered by them should be compensated. We
are saying this because the people involved in
mining— particularly the truck owners— made the
maximum investment in the mining industry—
approximately Rs 1,400 cr. Another Rs 800 cr was put
in by the barge owners.
Only Rs 620 cr was put in by the mining companies.
Yet the mining companies polished off Rs 48000 cr (
from 2004- 2009, for which we have figures), which
are legitimate assets of the Goan population, giving
the government Rs 426 cr, which is less than 1 per
cent of total earnings ( while even the Central
government took 30 per cent).
You had recently highlighted the kind of profits
raked in by mining companies in the ‘big league’. In
2010- 11, when the export was 54 million tonnes,
mining companies made a profit of Rs 11,000 cr when
the budget of the Goa government was less than Rs.
6,000 cr. The profit of Sesa Goa itself was equal to
all the revenue receipts of the Goa government.
So it is clear that the wrong people have had to
suffer because of mining closure. They did not
illegally extract ore from the mine. However, those
who did the illegal extraction have not been touched
till date. This clearly shows on whose side the
government stands today. It is apparent that the
state government is reluctant to go after those most
responsible for causing the Rs 35,000 cr loss from
the illegal mining between 2007 and 2011.
The CM is even disputing the Shah Commission
figures. Do you see a closing of ranks in this
between those in power and those who are “powerful”?
I do not see any need for “closing of ranks” between
those in power and those who are powerful— they have
always been together whichever government comes to
power! Sesa Goa's Annual Reports for three years
showed they had made contributions of more than Rs 1
cr to the BJP, Rs 55 lakh to the Congress, Rs10 lakh
to the MGP, even Rs 1 lakh to the Shiv Sena.
All these are in violation of the FCRA Act. The huge
profits made were used by the mining companies to
intervene in democracy and politics. We had the
illusion that the present government would break
that nexus. That's the permanent fate of the voting
Some would argue that the prevailing system of
mining leases that began under the Portuguese is
perfectly valid in a mixed economy with our free-
market principles. But you don’t agree, why? There
is no question of a mixed economy in the state of
Goa in respect of mining. Mining in Goa has been 100
per cent privately done. Because of this, large
scale violations have occurred.
It is therefore time to terminate this arrangement
since companies which have done such large scale
violations should not be permitted to mine in the
state of Goa again. I think the wholly private
nature of the mining trade in Goa has shown the
people of this country that the private sector can
be more corrupt than the government.
Your lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, has argued for the
Supreme Court to consider the principle of
intergenerational equity for the future of mining in
Goa. Can you explain the concept and where this
derives from? The iron ore belongs to the Goan
public. The Goa government captured only 1 per cent
of the value of this ore annually, whereas in better
managed countries, public revenues from sale of
natural resources is as high as 90 per cent. We
calculated that Rs. 48,000 cr— belonging to the
people of Goa— went into the pockets of a few mining
companies and a couple of offshore accounts in just
five years alone. We do not think there is scope for
extending that kind of arrangement again. In future,
we want all the money from mining to go to the Goan
public and to future generations of Goans. The Shah
Commission estimated that permissions had been
granted in Goa for extraction of approximately 66
million tonnes of ore which would completely exhaust
the ore stock in the state in nine years. Let alone
future generations, even this generation would not
have any ore left! But how many generations should
benefit from it? What we have argued in the Supreme
Court is that the ore must last at least three
generations and not just one generation. We looked
at other countries selling natural resources and we
found that countries which are thinking of the
future generations are extracting their mineral
resources very carefully and depositing the earnings
in a separate fund.
Thus for every rupee that is obtained from the sale
of the natural resources like ore, one rupee is put
aside into a separate fund which cannot be touched
by the government. By this means, every time ore is
sold, though income is generated and the ore gets
depleted, the value of the ore is not lost since the
government is forced to put aside an equivalent
amount of money in a separate fund.
For example, even if half of the Rs 48,000 cr had
been kept in such a fund ( a corpus of Rs 24,000 cr),
and we earned only 3 per cent ( after inflation),
the Goa government would still be receiving Rs. 720
cr each year in perpetuity. Without any further
mining at all! But can this work for Goa? Yes, it
can. Permanent funds are now working very well in
Norway which has a permanent fund of USD 830 billion
set aside for a population of 6 million from sale of
its oil reserves. Similarly there are permanent
funds in Alaska ( US) and Alberta ( Canada) which
are provinces like Goa in a federal set up.
Mr Parrikar said in an interview to PTI in Delhi
last month that if he did not get interim relief in
the case from the apex court, he would “go to (Narendra)
Modi for amending the law” to allow him to restart
How would you respond to this? First of all, the
issue is not restart of mining. Even we want mining
to restart in some way. But we want mining to
restart so that the main beneficiaries are not those
to whom the leases were given and who misused them,
but those who have made the most investments in
mining: the truck owners, the heavy equipment
owners, the barge owners, the villages that have
been compelled to sacrifice their environment, their
fields, their water, their health and now their
Hence we are opposed to restart of fresh extraction
from the ground. Ore should be removed from dumps
(750 million tonnes spread out across the mining
areas) and there should be simultaneous use of the
dumps to refill mining pits. This will give jobs to
truck owners and their families and it will also
restore the ecology in the mining areas which has
been badly damaged.
I do not doubt that governments have the power to
bring in laws to nullify the effect of judgements.
The last time this was done in Goa was in the Cidade
de Goa demolition case. In India, the last time this
was done was with the Supreme Court judgement
disqualifying MPs and MLAs indicted by the courts.
The uproar against that was so fierce, the
government had to withdraw the ordinance.
You’ve spent years fighting environment issues. When
you look back, was this the most challenging case?
Yes, because after this case, I plan to retire! We
commenced filing writ petitions before the Bombay
High Court from 1992 onwards against several mining
companies. We clubbed them all together in one major
petition in the Supreme Court and this enabled us to
put all our demands in one single place before one
single bench which appeared to be convinced that we
had legitimate grievances. We were pitted in the
Supreme Court against a huge battalion of lawyers
including the most expensive members of the bar.
The counsel of the Goa government was being paid Rs
7.5 lakh per day.
On our side there were only two lawyers including
I think he was more than a match for the entire bar
those days, as he was perfectly convinced with our
point of view. In that sense, it was an extremely
- Lok Sabha’s
Standing Committee on Coal and Steel says
India’s iron ore stocks to last only 40 years
- Large scale
growth in the iron ore and steel industries will
render stock adequate for only 25 years.
- Shah Commission
said at rate of permissions granted Goa ore
would have exhausted in nine years.
- China has 200
billion tonnes ore stocks, yet imports from
countries like India ( and Goa in particular).
production a major environmental threat Holding
environmentalists responsible is ridiculous. Who
started illegal mining which he ( the CM) as
chairman of PAC documented with zest and which he
said involved a theft of Rs 3,500 cr? Do
environmentalists own mines and do illegal mining?
Do truck owners do illegal mining? Such statements
are meant only for the media.
To claim that the State’s GDP went down by 20 per
cent is only partly correct. It went down because it
was artificially inflated by excess mining and
windfall gains. All that extra growth did not go to
Goans but to mining companies. Nearly half of it
went to one company, Sesa Goa, which is controlled
by Anil Agarwal in London.
HOW OTHERS DO IT I do not doubt that governments
have the power to bring in laws to nullify the
effect of judgements. The last time this was done in
Goa was in the Cidade de Goa demolition case. In
India, the last time this was done was with the
Supreme Court judgement disqualifying MPs and MLAs
indicted by the courts. The uproar against that was
so fierce, the government had to withdraw the
INVESTMENTS & RETURNS
- Truck owners
invested Rs 1,400 cr
- Barge owners Rs
- Mining companies
only Rs 620 cr
- 2004- 2009
mining companies made Rs 48,000 cr ƒ¤ Goa govt
Rs 426 cr, less than 1 per cent of total
- Central govt
took far more— 30 per cent
selling natural resources think of future
generations and extract very carefully. Among them
Norway, which has a permanent fund of USD 830
billion for a population of 6 million from sale of
Similarly there are permanent funds in Alaska (US)
and Alberta (Canada) which are provinces like Goa in
a federal set up.
sounds a wake-up call for Goans (Herald)
Posted on Goanet News |
March 20, 2014 |
Team Herald |
Gujarat priest sounds a
wake-up call for Goans Says Modi as PM will curb
freedom of religion
Exhorting Goans to awake before it is too late,
Ahmedabad-based Jesuit priest, Fr Cedric Prakash on
Wednesday said that Narendra Modi would bring the
entire country under the draconian anti-conversion
law, curbing freedom of religion guaranteed under
the Indian Constitution if he becomes the Prime
"In 2003, Narendra Modi passed the draconian
anti-conversion law. The law mandates any person to
seek permission of the district Collector to change
one’s religion. The law has put innumerable hurdles,
curbing their right to religious freedom. If Modi
becomes the Prime Minister, he would bring the
entire country under the draconian law," Fr Cedric
said, while addressing a meeting organised by the
Catholic Association of Goa at the Grace Church
He termed as a big lie the Gujarat Government's
claim on development saying the social indicators
points towards dismal performance.
Fr Cedric Prakash sj, who is the director of
Prashant, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for
Human Rights, Justice and Peace, said the divisive
force talk about the Hindu state and Hindu nation
when the people of India through the Indian
Constitution has opted for secular state, wherein
every single religion is accepted and respected as
per the Constitution. He appealed to Goans not to be
fooled or carried out by the ideology of those who
rule Gujarat, while recalling how beef traders in
Goa were forced to close down their shutters.
He urged the people of Goa to vote with their
conscience and vote for what is right. "We have to
tackle corruption in the system. We have to stand up
for truth and justice," he said.
Fr Cedric took a dig at the media for creating hype
around Modi saying the media has compromised on the
principles. "The voice of the media has been
throttled and muzzled. People in Gujarat are living
in fear. IAS officers are living in fear. The lives
of their families have been ruined," he claimed. "We
should not fear anyone and at anytime. Jesus says
fear no one. I am not a politician. I don't
subscribe to any politician or the parties. I will
go and vote as per my conscience," he said.
When the media later asked Fr Cedric what message he
was giving to Goans when he asked them to be awake
before it is too late, he said Goans should join
mainstream politics and take active part in what is
The meeting later adopted resolutions to uphold the
secular traditional and maintain the secular nature
of the country, that the candidate should ensure
that the minority commission is set up in the state
and to ensure autonomy for the minority run
Anxious moments at meet
presence of the election officials and police at the
Grace Church hall gave some anxious moments as their
presence was strongly objected by the organisers on
grounds the meeting was a private affair.
Members of the Catholic Association of Goa
vehemently objected to the presence of the election
officials and police when the latter insisted on the
video filming of the meeting. The Association
maintained that the meeting is a private meeting
held in a private hall and was not attended by any
candidate contesting the election.
When activist Jose Marie Miranda spoke to Deputy
Collector Sangeeta Naik over the telephone, she
maintained that there was a complaint that the
meeting was being held to intimidate the voters. "I
questioned the deputy collector what sort of
intimidation was she talking about when the meeting
was not a political one when the code of conduct
applies to political parties and the candidates,” he
said, while asserting that the election officials
and the police were curbing the freedom to hold the
It was only after Miranda spoke to the District
Collector Mihir Vardhan that the police and election
officials left the venue, but not before their
presence intimidated the people who wanted to hear
the Ahmedabad-based priest, Fr Cedric Prakash
levels of Goans decreasing'
Anisha Francis,TNN | Mar 20, 2014,
"Our research has found
that native Goans are any day much happier than the
business-minded people from other states who have
made Goa their home…..”
Panaji: They leave their mark-a smiling yellow
sun-everywhere; on trees and t-shirts, on bumper
stickers, roadside food carts and even on garbage
cans. For the past four years, Goa's 'Live Happy'
campaign has quietly been living in the corners of
our subconscious through their sunshiney-logo, and
are now in the process of measuring Goa's 'happiness
"Using the information collected from our
interactions with thousands of people from different
walks of life, we are in the process of evaluating
Goa's 'happiness index'. While most Indians perceive
the people of Goa to be the most content and
stress-free, we find that this is slowly changing,"
says Achal Chauhan, one of the founders of the
non-profit company, based in Assagao.
While India ranks at a miserable 111 (out of 156) in
the UN's World Happiness Report (2013), few studies
have attempted to measure the happiness levels of
individual Indian states.
The closest came from research firm Crisil, which in
2013 measured the prosperity and equality indices of
various states and placed Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat
on top. Goa, Kashmir and the North-Eastern states
were not included in the survey.
"Our research has found that native Goans are any
day much happier than the business-minded people
from other states who have made Goa their home. The
levels of happiness are going down and stress levels
on the rise even among Goans who are now forced to
join the rat race in order to maintain the
high-quality lifestyle that they are used to. Most
Goans are unhappy at having to trade in their
once-relaxed pace of life to problems that spring
from competition, inflation and pollution," says
Chauhan, who left his maddening job as a financial
consultant in Mumbai's stock market for the simple
country life in Goa.
The report will also evaluate the average Goan's
contribution to society, in terms of man-hours spent
in doing voluntary social work or community service.
"This is because we find a strong correlation
between one's happiness and his 'giving nature'. We
recommend that a minimum of ten hours per year spent
giving back to society would make a huge difference
to our lives," he adds.
'Live Happy' is a Section-25 company that comes up
with sustainable business models to fund their
social activities, like their 'happiness sessions'
or visits to cheer up hospital inmates.
"At present, our main 'business' is to recycle or
compost Mapusa's garbage, which is often dumped on
the Assagao plateau. We make a surprisingly good
amount of money from trash, which is then pumped
into dance, yoga and laughter sessions, spreading
smiles among the student community or visiting the
sick or the underprivileged to cheer them up," adds
Felly Gomes, another founder.
To get in touch with the 'Live Happy' team to
conduct free 'happiness' sessions contact
March 20 is United Nation's International day of
Vote for BJP
to strengthen Goa govt: Manohar Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said
voting for BJP during the upcoming general elections
would mean strengthening the hands of the party-led
Click here to read more
prices soar to all-time high
Times of India
"Though Goa's production had declined from 24,000
metric tonnes to about 18,000 metric tonnes in the
last few years the state produced more than …
Click here to read more
International Travel Mart set to be the biggest B2B
The Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) will be
held from April 2 to 4, 2014 at Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Stadium at Taleigao. This prestigious B2B
event promises to bring together travel companies,
hoteliers, State Tourism Boards and …
Click here to read more
Medical College patients open up to knee replacement
Times of India
Panaji: A decade
ago, the Goa Medical College (GMC) and Hospital,
Bambolim, began offering knee replacement surgery.
Though the procedure is often the only choice for
relief from the excruciating pain of advanced
arthritis, the suggestion was largely …
Click here to read more
Profane' - an exhibition of latest works by Francis
De Souza opening on 21st March 2014 at 6 pm
gallerygitanjali at gmail.com | Mon Mar 17 00:16:44
Gallery Gitanjali invites you to 'Sacred and
Profane' - an exhibition of latest works by Francis
The Exhibition will open on 21st March 2014, 6.00 pm
at Gallery Gitanjali - Panjim Pousada.
The Exhibition will remain open till 31st March
2014; from 9.30 am to 7 pm at Gallery
Francis De Souza was awarded the STATE ART AWARDS
in 1994, ARTISTS CAMP ORGANISED BY MAHALASA KALA
SANGAM (MARCEL) GOA in 1992, 1993 STATE ART
EXHIBITION GOA, 1994 FIRST PRIZE AT GOA ART
EXHIBITION HELD AT KALA ACADEMY & A.I.F.A.C.S
Of his works,Francis says:
My Paintings are essentially an inner journey
with all its smooth running, conflicts and battles.
They are the galaxy with its multitude of stars and
planets and so much more still in the process of
discovery. Forces coming together and pulling apart.
Worlds created and destroyed. And all of it
contained within the one. There is an element of
uncertainity, the sense of completion is held in
abeyence. The imagery is only incidental...and not
Goan Voice designed and compiled by
Demerg Systems India,
Alfran Plaza, "C" Block, 2nd Floor, S-43/44,
(Near Don Bosco School), Panjim, Goa-403001
011 91 832 2420797 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org