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Goa Speaker discards PAC report on mining scam


Goa assembly Speaker Pratapsingh Rane has declined to table the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report that has unveiled a Rs.3,500 crore illegal in the assembly. PAC Chairman Manohar Parrikar had submitted the report to Speaker two days ago.

While Leader of Opposition Parrikar hoped that the report would be tabled, Rane said after receiving the report, " I will go through the report. We are in a democracy, so the majority view should be taken into consideration."

Four legislators of the ruling alliance - three from Congress and one from the Nationalist Congress Party - out of the seven-member PAC had not signed the report, Rane said. They said they needed time to study the document, which severely indicts the government.

The PAC report charges several state government agencies including the department of mines, the pollution control board, the forest department and the police, besides central government agencies like the ministry of environment and forests, the Indian Bureau of Mines and the Director General of Mines Safety with turning a blind eye to illegal mining in Goa.

The role of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who has been mines minister for a decade now, is also under cloud, although the report does not directly name him.

The PAC report on illegal mining has triggered a political storm in the state. Goa exported nearly 54 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal year out of which nearly 7 million tonnes was allegedly illegally extracted.

Several citizens, activists and environmentalists have long been demanding stringent conditions for mining activities in Goa but the Congress-led governments at the centre and the state have not bothered to take any action to protect Goa's dwindling environment.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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