Goa mine workers demand dole before Ganesh fest
Panaji, Aug 27 (IANS) The Goa Mining People's Front, a collective of workers and small traders linked to the mining industry, here on Tuesday threatened to stage a dharna outside Chief Minister Pramod Sawant's residence if they were not paid Rs 1 lakh per family ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
Addressing a meeting here, Puti Gaonkar, Front convenor, also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not doing enough to revive the mining industry. "We have no money to celebrate the Ganesh festival. The government should provide a one-time dole of Rs 1 lakh per family, affected by the mining ban," Gaonkar said.
Ganesh Chaturthi, which begins on September 2, is the state's most popular Hindu festival.
If not given the dole, Gaonkar said, Front members would stage a protest outside Sawant's residence. "The dharna will take place on August 29 or 30, unless the Chief Minister addresses our grievance," Gaonkar said.
The Supreme Court had banned mining in 88 mining leases from March 2018, and also directed the state government to re-issue mining leases.
The is the second time in less than a decade that mining activities in the state has come to a standstill. It was first banned in 2012, following the revelation of a Rs 35,000 crore mining scam, unearthed by the state government-appointed Justice M.B. Shah Commission.
Gaonkar said the Group of Ministers, formed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah last month, had not done enough to find ways to revive the mining industry. "The GoM has met only once and no obvious effort has been made to restart mining. Our request to both the governments, in Goa and in Delhi, is to not keep us hanging anymore and restart mining at the earliest," Gaonkar said.
At its peak in 2011, the mining industry accounted for nearly 20-25 per cent of Goa's gross domestic product.