Former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat today failed to appear before a Special Investigation Team which had issued a summons against him last week in connection with an alleged illegal mining scam. The senior Congress leader told PTI today that he had sought another date to appear before the SIT, as he is not in town.
“I am out of station now. I had informed the crime branch that I will not be available for the inquiry today. I asked them to give me another date,” he said. Crime Branch officials didn’t respond to phone calls made to them for seeking their reaction.
Kamat is expected to return to Goa on Thursday, after which he might make himself available for the inquiry. Kamat had held the charge of the Mines and Geology Ministry in the state in the previous Congress governments, during 2000-2012.
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He had served as the chief minister of the state during 2007-12. The first summons was issued against Kamat by the SIT in 2014, which then questioned him in connection with the alleged scam in February that year.
The Crime Branch had arrested Goa Mines and Geology Department’s former director Arvind Lolienkar in connection with the case in March 2014. He is currently out on bail. As per the report of the Justice (retd) M B Shah Commission, the illegal mining to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore had taken place in Goa from 2005 to 2012, when the Supreme Court banned extraction of iron ore in the coastal state.
A complaint in this regard was filed by the Mines and Geology Department in July 2013, seeking to fix criminal liability on those involved in the illegal mining as stated by various committees, including the Centre-appointed Shah Commission, in their reports.
On the basis of the reports of the Shah Commission and other committees, the crime branch registered an FIR against Kamat, Lolienkar, some officials of the Mines department, mining firms and others, in August 2013.
The FIR was registered under various sections of IPC, including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 166 (public servant disobeying law), and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Mines and Minerals Development Act, Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, and the Goa Prevention of Illegal Mining Transportation, Storage of Minerals Rules 2004.
The SIT was set up by the BJP government, which came to power in 2012, in 2014.
The illegal mining was confirmed by a Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee and the state Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.