Panaji: The mining department is not the only state agency responsible for what Goa assembly`s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has pegged as a Rs.3,500 crore illegal mining scam. The role of Goa`s forest department is equally dubious, the report noted.
The committee referred to the forest department officials as the "pall bearers" or coffin carriers of forest and wildlife in the state.
The role of the custodians of wildlife and forests had to be probed because "forest officials were in the know of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) and Wildlife Act" but still "ignored" the violations, the PAC said.
Accusing the department`s officials of turning a `Nelson`s Eye` to the wanton damage caused to wildlife and forest habitats due to brazen illegal mining, the PAC headed by Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar has recommended immediate stoppage of unlawful "extraction and transportation of ore".
"Detailed inquiries (need) to be carried out to know how the lapses have occurred and responsibility is to be fixed on erring officials of the forest department," the report recommended, further seeking "punitive action of exemplary nature to be initiated against defaulting extractors".
Although the report was submitted to the speaker Wednesday, whether the report will be tabled in the two-day monsoon session of the state assembly - which ends Friday - is in doubt.
Speaker Pratapsingh Rane said that he would need "time to examine the report".
Goa exported nearly 54 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal, out of which nearly 7 million tonnes was allegedly extracted illegally.