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Sardesai meets Prabhu in Delhi over Goa mining resumption issue

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New Delhi: Goa Forward Party chief and State Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai on Saturday met Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi pressing for the demand of resumption of iron ore mining in the State.

During his meeting with Prabhu, Sardesai presented a memorandum on behalf of Goa Mining People’s Front, urging centre’s intervention in resuming the mining activity.

“As promised to the Goa Mining People’s Front, I have met Union minister for commerce Suresh Prabhu and strongly pleaded the case for resumption of mining in the state,” Sardesai said talking over phone from Delhi after meeting the minister.

He said that  the government has to take some strong decisive measures in public interests to see that the hardship suffered by very significant population is alleviated.

Goa Mining People’s Front, an umbrella organization of the mining dependents, had met Sardesai this week seeking his intervention in the matter. The mining industry has come to standstill after Supreme Court through its verdict on February 07, 2018 quashed 88 mining leases.

GFP, which is a part of ruling coalition, had assured the mining dependents to take up the issue.

In a memorandum which was submitted to Prabhu in Delhi, the party has pointed out that  Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar vide letter dated September 24, 2018 wrote to  Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Mines requesting him to take appropriate steps to bring about necessary amendment to the Provision of Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act (MMDR) so that mining in the State of Goa resumes at the earliest.

“Subsequent to the said letter the Ministry of Mines in consultation with the Union Law Ministry referred the file to the Attorney General of India seeking his legal opinion on the proposal from the Chief Minister of Goa,” the memorandum reads.

“However due to certain unavoidable circumstances Attorney General of India referred the file for opinion to the then Additional Solicitor General of India  Maninder Singh to opine on the matter. In the interim the Additional Solicitor General of India resigned from his post without opining on the said file,” it reads.

“At present the file has been sent back to the Attorney General awaiting further reference to another Law officer of the union of India,” GFP has said in the memorandum.

The party has said that the said delay is resulting in further contraction of timelines if the said amendment is required to be brought forward in the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament of India to provide much needed relief to Lakhs of People engaged in the Mining Industry in the State.

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Sugarcane farmers might get higher support and harvesting price

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GOA: The government has decided to intervene in the matter related to the sugarcane farmers, working out better harvesting and support price to the growers.

A high level meeting of the officials from Sanjivani Sugar Factory, Sanguem Assembly Constituency MLA Prasad Gaonkar and leaders of farmers was held in Panaji this morning which was chaired by State Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai.

The meeting discussed the issues faced by the farmers, due to which, they have been turning away from cultivating Sugarcane in the South Goa’s Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona talukas.

Emerging from the meeting, Sardesai announced that his department will be having “limited intervention” in the matter to solve the woes of the farmers.

“The subject is under Department of Cooperative Societies, which is headed by the Chief Minister. I will also discuss the issues with the CM,” he said.

The leaders of the farmers stated that the factory, located at Dharbandora in South Goa, was supposed to start for the current season during early this month, but it is yet to start functioning, forcing the farmers into more problems.

“ Sanjivani Sugar Factory is in ICU (Intensive Care Unit), we want to get it out of it,” Sardesai said.

He said that the factory requires a share capital of Rs 10 crore for smoothening its functioning.

Speaking about the demands of farmers, Sardesai said that the farmers’  demand is that Rs 600 per tonne harvesting charges should be paid to them from the current rate of Rs 200 per tonne.

“Except for the support price given  by the agriculture department, we have no role to play in it. It is entirely with Minister of Cooperative Societies, which is the Chief Minister,” he said.

“Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar had approached me. I will be going to do limited intervention in the matter by slightly increasing the harvesting price, and also slightly increasing the minimum support price,” the minister said.

“But we have to consider what are the national precedence. I have told the department to submit report by this evening,” he added.

Sardesai said that government will work to ensure that the Sugar Factory should start by end of the month.

“They have pointed out that the land which is under sugarcane cultivation is not having proper irrigation facilities,” he said.

“A tender of Water Resources Department will be issued very shortly, I am following the matter with the Chief Minister. We will take some extra efforts that Sanjivani Sugar Factory is gets Sanjivani (lease of life),” he added.

Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar said that  in Sanguem taluka itself, total 35,000 tonnes of sugarcane is harvested and sent to the factory annually.

“We are the biggest source of sugarcane provider for the factory. But the farmers are in penury as the harvesting price provided by the government needs to be increased,” the MLA said.

“We want to bring in more area under sugarcane cultivation but that is not happening as the irrigation facilities are very poor,” he added.

“The farmers are not able even to change their crop patter as the soil does not support any other production,” he added.

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Kadamba Employees to get seventh pay scale now, CM clears the file

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GOA:  Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today fulfilled the long pending demand of Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited employees’ of pay scale as per recommendation of Seventh Pay Commission.

Parrikar signed the file which will entitle the employees of KTCL all the benefits under Seventh Pay Commission.

In the month of August this year, Parrikar had assured that the Seventh Pay commission recommendations would be implemented for the KTCL Employees.

KTC Drivers and Allied Employees Association which is a part of AITUC has welcomed the decision.

“It is a very good development for Goa. More than 2,000 families will be directly benefitted by this order,” said Union Leader Christopher Fonseca.

He said that after this decision the responsibility of workers increases. “We will have to work to see that Kadamba stands tall in the transport industry. We have to work with the interest of public in mind,” he said.

Fonseca said that Seventh Pay Commission is only a beginning. “We want better bus stands, buses and better facilities to the public who are travelling,” he said.

The union leader added that the workers should work hard to make Kadamba, a number one corporation in the country.

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Goa Lokayukta summons CS over Shirodkar’s land deal

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GOA: Goa Lokayukta Justice P K Misra has today directed the Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma to remain personally present on November 23 for the recording of his statement in connection with the alleged Rs 70 crore land scam involving former Shiroda MLA Subhash Shirodkar.

The Chief Secretary has been further directed to bring all the records pertaining to that Shiroda land acquisition.

The summons to the Chief Secretary is on account of his failure to file his report and to produce all the official records pertaining to the Shiroda land acquisition as directed by the Lokayukta on October 22.

Advocate Aires Rodrigues in his complaint has drawn the attention of the Lokayukta as to how Subhash Shirodkar who resigned as MLA on October 16 and joined the BJP has benefitted from a massive land scam in collusion with the Government’s gross act of maladministration.

Rodrigues in his complaint has named Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Chief Secretary of Goa as Respondents.

Pointing out that in a very blatant illegality the Goa Government has acquired 1, 83, 524 sq mts of orchard land in Shiroda from Subhash Shirodkar for a whopping Rs 70 crores, Rodrigues has stated that this whole unholy and unlawful deal apparently with the blessings and connivance of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was to deceptively reward Subhash Shirodkar for politically flirting with the BJP.

Stating that such devious politriks cannot be at the cost of the State exchequer, Rodrigues in his complaint has stated that Vedanta Real Estate Developers owned by Subhash Shirodkar and his three brothers Amit, Umesh and Sattesh had purchased that land on 19th October 2006 for a mere Rs 45 rupees a square meter which the government has now acquired for a very hefty price of Rs 3,500 per sq meter.

Alleging that the rate paid for Subhash Shirodkar’s land was exorbitant and unusually high, showing a corrupt act,  Rodrigues has in his complaint also stated that another land owner had by a letter dated April 05, 2018 addressed to the Chief Secretary had offered the government 1, 40,650 sq mts of his land in Shiroda itself for a mere Rs 350 a sq mt and that a copy of that letter had been also sent to the then Cabinet Advisory Committee comprising of Ministers Sudin Dhavalikar, Francis D’Souza and Vijai Sardesai.

Stating that any land acquisition by the Government is always for a particular purpose and that Subhash Shirodkar’s land was acquired by the Industries department without having any plan in place for what purpose the acquired land would be used, Adv. Rodrigues in his complaint has alleged that this land acquired without any public purpose clearly shows that this was intended to be paid as a bribe to keep Subhash Shirodkar then MLA of the Opposition party tied up at the command of the Chief Minister.

Stating that the Government was duty bound to make provision for the payment of any land acquired and that there was no provision for making payment in instalments, Rodrigues has stated that the payment by instalments in this case was a methodology for keeping Subhash Shirodkar tied down to receiving dole from the Government in exchange for his continued support.

Rodrigues has in his complaint also drawn the attention of the Lokayukta that he had filed a complaint with the Chief Secretary on May 29, this year on this land scam involving Subhash Shirodkar but no action was taken by the Government in the matter.

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