State Forest Department, which allowed nearly 50,000 trees to be felled for mining, has come under fire during the ongoing Assembly session.
Yesterday, Leader of Opposition, Manohar Parrikar said in the House: "I have seen Avatar. When I visited Cauvrem village, I saw the same movie again. People are agitating against the illegal mining on their sacred hill."
"The wood-logs are so huge that the mining company could not move them."
Cauvrem, a tribal village in South Goa, has erupted in protest against mining on the nearby hill which is worshipped by locals as a form of deity.
"Next generation will curse us for not saving Goa. I do not want to be a part of the Assembly that is not able to save Goa for posterity," an emotional Parrikar said in a choked voice.
The former Chief Minister said he would quit politics if Government failed to save the forests. "It takes almost 100 years for the formation of six-inches top soil in the forest.
But the Forest Department clears files within 24 hours allowing mining in these bio-diversity rich habitats," Parrikar rued.
Parrikar said there were 19 mining sites within half a kilometre of Selaulim reservoir, which provides drinking water to half of Goa. "Imagine what will happen, if these mining dumps are washed into the reservoir. Goa will not have drinking water," the BJP leader said, adding that of the 19 mines, 12 are within 200 metres of the reservoir.
Narrating anecdote after anecdote on the forest department's promotion of mining at the cost of the nature, Parrikar said the Indian Forest Service officers in Goa were acting like promoters of mines.
Forests Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues was forced to assure the house that he would not let a single tree to be cut for mining henceforth.
"I will instruct my officers that no files on cutting of trees for mining should be forwarded to the government," the minister said.
Goa is a major exporter of iron ore. According to the government figures, almost 40 million metric tones of ore is exported from the state to China, Japan and Europe.