In doing so he pulled out a page from the Indira Gandhi book. The late prime minister made it a habit to blame external forces for internal problems that could not be solved.
I cannot, for the love of God and Goa, understand how external forces can stop tourism in the state. If there is anyone who can stop it, it is us, with our obsession with numbers as against a strategy of lower numbers but higher quality.
Of course, the CM did mention that Goa needs “good, quality and responsible” tourists to visit the state. But truth be told, no one knows how to accomplish this.
So, until some good and well-connected soul figures this out for us, we have no choice but to put our faith in numbers.
What came as a surprise though is the CM’s statement that external forces were/are/whatever, working to stop mining.
Those who have followed the fortunes and misfortunes of the mining industry in Goa will recall that it was former chief minister Manohar Parrikar who stopped mining in the state, and he can hardly be classified as an external force.
In fact, he put an end to the plunder and outright robbery of the state’s mining resources by mining companies with insatiable appetites for profits.
Is it possible the CM is referring to mining companies within the state as the forces conspiring to stop mining? He would not openly do this because mining companies, despite being out of business for a decade, are still very powerful.
No, they do not resort to tactics employed by taxi drivers to get what they want. They are miles and miles above it. They simply bring down governments and prop up new ones.
If one were to carefully follow the twists and turns of the mining saga in the state, one would not be able to help but notice how mining companies have fought tooth and nail to prevent the government from restarting mining operations.
And they did this by filing petition after petition in the high court and Supreme Court. This they did to protect their hold on leases.
Once they had lost all the cases, one thought they had reached the end of the road. Unfortunately for those dependent on mining, they pulled another rabbit out of their hat of tricks.
Only recently, the government completed the auction process for four mining blocks — three in North Goa and one in the South.
Vedanta bagged the Bicholim mines with a 63.55% bid, Salgaocar Shipping got one for 99.25%, NS Bandekar the third for 111.28% and the last was won by Fomento with an 88.40% bid. The percentage represents the revenue that mining companies will share with the government.
This raises some serious questions. How will Bandekar share 111% of revenue? Will it pull out the additional 11% from its pocket to pay the government? And if Salgaocar Shipping is going to share 99% revenue with the government, how does it plan to survive with 1% revenue? What is the catch?
The only way to make big bucks in such a process is by illegal mining. For every tonne declared, an additional two tonnes will slip through the cracks (really large cracks).
Perhaps the CM is right, and this is an attempt to block mining and ensure that the leases do not change hands. Perhaps, this is why they are called mining blocks.