Only BJP can resolve Goa's mining ban issue: Naik



Only a BJP government at the Centre can and will resolve the mining ban issue in Goa, Union Minister of state for AYUSH and BJP's candidate for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat Shripad Naik said on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference here, Naik said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be addressing an election meeting at an indoor stadium near Panaji on April 10.

When asked if the Supreme Court-imposed ban on the mining industry would impact his chances of winning the North Goa seat for the fifth consecutive time, Naik said: "We are making active efforts to resolve the issue. The BJP alone will resolve the issue, as our leadership is committed to it, which is why they will vote for the BJP."

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments, both at the Centre and in the coastal state, have been on the backfoot for their inability to resolve the mining deadlock after the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from March 2018.

A 2012 ban was earlier lifted by the apex court in 2014, but the court imposed fresh restrictions in 2018 after it found that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa had not followed due procedure in the lease renewal process.

A collective started by people who were earning a livelihood from the mining industry, the Goa Mining People's Front, has repeatedly slammed the BJP leadership for not doing enough to restart mining operations in the coastal state. 

The industry is a significant contributor to the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) along with the tourism sector.

Naik said that he had reached out to leaders of the Front as part of his poll campaign and assured them of every support to get the industry back on track.

"I have met them and explained to them the commitment of our leaders to resolve the issue."

"Several leaders including Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani will be campaigning in Goa. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also expected to be part of the poll campaign in Goa," Naik said.

The four-term MP takes on state Congress President Girish Chodankar in what appears to be a one-on-one contest for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat on April 23. -IANS