What was urgency to abolish mining concessions before Statehood?

SADANAND U. MALIK | APRIL 13, 2021, 12:18 AM IST

Conversion of mining concessions into leases is unconstitutional. The matter is pending in Supreme Court so till the validity of conversion of mining concessions into leases is decided it will be premature to form the Mining Development Corporation.

On one hand Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant makes an announcement to form mining corporation, regularising illegal construction in Comunidade land, giving registration number to illegal constructions etc, on the other hand the government do not have land of its own and for its own requirements and has to depend upon illegal acquisition of the land of Comunidade, the private villages not holding the land under tenure from government as a prerequisite for land acquisition under Art 31A of the Constitution of India.

If such an announcement is made by the Chief Minister of any other Indian State then it is understandable as the entire land of every State that came into existence on January 26, 1950 on enforcement of Indian Constitution vests in Central Government. The land to the Central Government is received from British government under Indian Independence Act 1947 and through the treaty of Accession by Princely states. All people of India then being subjects and not citizens held the land under tenure or otherwise under Art 31A referred above. The case of Goa is that of acquired territory and therefore required a special legislation to vest the land in Goa in Central Government. Enactment of such law is subject to constitutional limitations. So far no law has been enacted by the Central government to vest the land in Goa in Central Government. 

The Goa became State on May 30, 1987 through The Goa, Daman and Diu Reorganisation Act 1987. Sec.35 of the said act provides for transfer of all land, stores, articles vesting in Union of India to the State of Goa except those in Daman and Diu. Will the government of Goa clarify to the people of Goa which land is transferred to Goa by Union when Union itself does not hold land in Goa? The fact of the matter is unless the land in territory vest in Union, no central laws can be extended to Goa. It is for this reason the central governments passed Daman Abolition of Proprietorship of villages Act 1962, immediately after passing The Goa Daman and Diu Administration Act 1962, so that central govt could extend central acts to Goa, Daman and Diu by enacting The Goa, Daman and Diu (Law) Regulations 1962. Actually these extended central laws should have been applied only to Daman as the land in Daman was vested in the Central Government and not land in Goa and Diu. Daman being the land of Central Govt, the post of Collector created through that act was for Daman only and not for Goa. However the officers deputed from the centre applied the law to the whole territory of Goa Daman and Diu. Neither the collector's post nor the land Revenue Code was required for Goa but that was essential for Daman. Subsequently in 1971 The Goa Daman and Diu Abolition of Proprietorship of Land in Diu Act was passed to vest the land in Diu in the Central Government. The ignorance of local leadership to British legislative system made local leaders rely upon Indian deputed officers that led to adoption of the central laws to Goa which were actually meant for tenure holders of government land .

The root cause of Goans facing identity crises and also losing their limited land and natural resources is due to failure of the successive governments since liberation in taking advantage of the protection provided to Goans through Goa Daman and Diu Administration Act 1962 and Goa Daman and Diu Citizenship Order 1962 and blindly following the central laws not meant for Goans. The Portuguese laws and administrative set up existing as on Dec 20, 1961 are protected, saved and continued for Goa by Goa Daman and Diu Administration Act 1962. Therefore no central legislation which alters rights and liabilities of the absolute and allodial land holders in Goa can be extended to Goa especially when land does not vest in the Central Government and no one holds the land under tenure from government like in other States.

Goans are discussing the issue on abolition of mining concessions but do not look at the legislative competence of the Parliament. My simple question why mining concessions in Goa were abolished on May 23, 1987, by passing The Goa Daman and Diu Mining concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act 1987,(Act No 16 of 1987), Just seven days before the official declaration of Goa as State? Is it not true that The Goa Daman and Diu Reorganisation Act 1987 (Act No 18 of 1987), was also passed on the same day May 23, 1987 after the passing of law on abolishing mining concessions. What was the urgency to abolish mining concessions before Statehood?

Was the central government aware that they will not be able to abolish concessions in Goa after statehood for not vesting the land in Goa in Central Government ? Why was the title of the act The Goa Daman and Diu Mining concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, when no concession abolished is from Daman and Diu. Is it to take a false legal cover that the application of law is for Union territory since the land in Daman and Diu vest in the Central Government? In the absence of land in Goa to the Central Government no central law right from the year 1962 is applicable to Goa . I appeal to the Govt of Goa and honourable Members of Goa Legislative Assembly, not to decide on mining issue till the petition challenging the conversion of concessions pending in Supreme Court is decided. 

(The writer ia a former MLA and former minister)

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