The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Goa police probing the illegal mining scam in the State on Thursday arrested Gitesh Naik, a mining contractor from Dhavli-Ponda (Goa), in connection with an alleged illegal mining case at Korgao in Pernem taluk of North Goa.The arrest was in connection with illegal mining activities as per a complaint filed by the Director of Mines and Geology, Prasanna Acharya, against former Congress MLA Jitendra Deshprabhu, a Congress politician, and others.Superintendent of Police Karthik Kashyap said on Thursday that the SIT found Naik to be involved in illegal mining, extraction of iron ore and transportation of ore from the mines at Korgao, owned by Mr. Deshprabhu. Naik was arrested in June 2011 for illegally extracting and transporting iron ore from the property owned by Mr. Deshprabhu. He was later released on bail.Mr. Kashyap said the case was complicated as the trail of illegal ore trade and exports and exploration spread over several years. The SIT is scanning documents and other evidence to expose and bring on record the criminal and illegal nexus between major mining players in the State. Most of the accused have obtained anticipatory bail from courts fearing arrests by the SIT. A large number of ore traders had established a criminal nexus with big mining players, who indulged in illegalities and irregularities, and officials of the State Mining and Geology.The SIT is investigating the ₹35,000-crore mining scam in the State as estimated by Justice (retd) M. B. Shah Commission of Inquiry. It recently arrested a second trader, Amalagiri Traders’ Philip Jacob, resident of Kerala, for committing theft of iron ore between 2007 and 2011.The SIT investigation had revealed that Jacob’s firm had a turnover of over ₹500 crore. Further a scrutiny of the firm’s bank statements revealed that more than ₹300 crore had been deposited by different exporters by way of RTGS transactions, and thereafter paid to mine owners in the State.Barely a month ago, the SIT had arrested Kancha Gaunder, a registered trader with the State Mines and Geology Department, in the multi-crore illegal mining case. Gaunder’s bank accounts showed huge transactions but he was not able to give a satisfactory reply about them, SIT had said. He allegedly paid huge sums to mining lease holders and illegal suppliers of ore for purchase of iron ore and sold it to exporters thereafter. The investigators also found that he had not filed returns for iron ore trading which caused a loss to the State exchequer. Besides traders, government and mining firm officials, former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat of the Congress, former Director of Mines arvind Loliyekar are among those being investigated by the SIT.An SIT official said that they have now decided to get to the root of the traders’ criminal operations by obtaining the list of iron ore traders who were registered and also those who had been rejected registration due to lack of proper documents or on suspicious documents they had submitted. After the illegal mining scam broke out and then Director Loliyekar was arrested and later released on bail. The probe showed that over 400 “traders” had been dealing in ore procurement and export. Over 300 traders were weeded out by the department by calling for a fresh scrutiny and implementing a new stringent registration procedure with genuine addresses, PAN numbers and other documents to check their veracity.