Tuesday, January 4, 2011

GXE statement on Jaitapur nuclear reactor protests

Goenchea Xetkanracho Ekvott (GXE), an umbrella organization working closely with numerous Goan groups on agriculture and environmental issues, strongly condemns the Government of India and the State Government of Maharashtra for the dictatorial and uncostitutional measures being taken to suppress the legitimate struggle of residents of Jaitapur and neighbouring villages to voice their concerns regarding the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant.

GXE denounces the ongoing police atrocities and regime of terror unleashed by the State to silence the beleagured farmers of Konkan as an attempt to undermine our Constitution. Retired Supreme Court and High Court judges are among thousands of villagers slapped with criminal charges and prohibitory orders in a shameful display of medieval inquisitive repression. Innocent visitors, scientists and mediapersons are being stopped by swarms of armed CRPF and other security forces from accessing the entire region in a blatant attempt to stifle the voices of reason and truth. The almost complete media blackout regarding the ground reality in Jaitapur is a frightening reminder of the infamous Emergency. The State seems to be keen to give a message to all Indians that it is more than willing to treat innocent residents as if they are terrorists, not just in Kashmir, but in any other part of India.

The cause of this standoff between the State with thousands of armed forces and the entire executive and judiciary on one side, and the poor farmers on the other, is the ongoing land acquisition for the 10,000 MW nuclear power plant proposed at the Madban plateau located on the picturesque coast of Konkan. The Government's unholy secrecy and haste are attempts to hide the ugly truths regarding this project, which include issues fundamental to the safety and survival of millions of Indians living in the densely populated Konkan, Goa and neighbouring regions. There is not a single working reactor of this new technology in the entire World, and even the design is not finalized due to safety concerns. However, Environmental Clearance has been granted by the Indian Government to this project due to “strategic reasons”, without obtaining regulatory approval from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and side-stepping the basic safety considerations. The design and detailed project specifications are yet to be submitted to the AERB. Yet, contractual agreements have been signed during the French President's recent visit to India, effectively awarding the French company Areva this 1 lakh crores project.

When proven indeginous nuclear reactors can be built for less than half the price, why is the Government hell bent on buying this untested and incomplete design from the French? It is our grave concern that the Indian Government is blindly attempting to salvage the French economy by gifting its dying nuclear industry this bonanza, but at huge costs to genuine Indian interests. This project is doomed financially as well as technologically, and even if the safety concerns are ignored, the issues related to soveregnity of our nation, economics, radioactive waste and other environmental aspects are significant.

GXE demands that the Indian Government removes all restrictions on freedom of speech, movement and association presently imposed on Jaitapur region and that it takes all measures necessary to restore our sagging confidence in the Indian Democracy immediately. We also demand that all issues regarding the design, life expectancy and decommissioning of the proposed plant, the procurement of fuel and disposal of waste, radioactivity, accident risks and safety, total project costs and comparison with alternative energy sources, purpose of the plant, environmental and social impact and Absolute Liability of the supplier are placed before the Indian Public, whose Fundamental Rights to Information and Life shall otherwise be crushed. We demand that until Public Approval is obtained after going though transparent and proper review procedures in Public Domain, the Land Acquisition process must be stopped and all Agreements and Contracts signed with Areva, or others, must be ignored by the Government.

GXE calls upon all Goans, residents of the Western Ghats and surrounding regions, and all other Indians to rise and defend our country from this blatantly illegal and unconstitutional attempt of the Government to appease Western Countries by feeding their dying industries at the cost of our economy, society, environment, and possibly even our very existence. If the Government fails to listen to the voice of reason, it shall be up to us, the people, to protect our Constitution, our lives, our lands and the future generations.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Petition on Jaitapur anti-nuclear protests and police repression

Janhit Seva Samiti

At and Post Madban, Taluka Rajapur, District Ratnagiri.

Dated December 19, 2010

To

Respected District Superintendent of Police,

District Ratnagiri, Ratnagiri.

Sub- Regarding Mass Agitations Against Proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.

Respected Sir,

This is to bring to your notice that we the project affected community farmers and fishermen of Madban, Mithgavane, Karel Niveli, Nate and Several Surrounding Villages have been waging peacefull protests against the above mentioned Proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. Since the hazardous and near fatal consequences of the project are increasingly clear, the agitation as you are well aware is spreading. While we have always endeavored to wage peacefull protests, the police under the garb of maintaining law and order have been found to be arresting and pressing grave criminal charges against innocent villagers since August 2, 2010 right upto December 4, 2010 and the recent incident that took place yesterday in which a innocent villager Irfan Kazi was killed due to reckless driving by a vehicle provided by NPCIL and which was in charge of your police force.

These incidents have only instigating the local villagers against your very force and police personnel who are our very brotheren just doing their police duty. In light of the incident yesterday which has disturbed the law and order of the area once again for no fault of the local community, we the activist of the above Samiti and the agitation have met and upon deliberating on the developments so far have resolved to intensify the agitation but in a peacefull manner using the Gandhian Satyagrahi way of peacefull agitations. You may kindly take note of the peacefull manner in which the Jail Bharo Agitation of October 29, 2010 took place at Madban in which around three thousand people participated.

Some of your responsible officers are clearly biased against us and have fallen short in understanding the reasons which form the base of the agitations and the manner in which we have sought to agitate. In fact these officers have time and again provoked the peacefull protestors to take either take law into their own hands or have pressed serious criminal charges against such villagers who were not even part of the agitation. The nature of the charges being pressed against villagers is of such serious nature that it they are not even found to be pressed against hardcore criminals.

In light of the above you may kindly take note that our agitations is against wrongfull and hazardous developmental policies of the government and not against the police, we wish to continue and intensify our agitation but in a peacefull manner till this project is cancelled.

In light of this you are requested to instruct your police officers not to implicate innocent villagers and workers at every opportunity. There is a fear that if this trend continues unscrupulous elements may infiltrate our agitation to create law and order situations which would then be beyond our control and yours too and for we which we shall definitely not be responsible. Hope you shall consider the above and seeing it in true light give necessary instructions to your police officers to maintain restraint in dealing with mass agitations.

Yours Sincerely

Arun Velaskar Madhu Mohite Mangesh Chavan Satyajit Chavan

For

Pravin Gavankar Sharfuddin Kazi Sri Krishna Mayekar Amjad Borkar

Ramesh Kajwe Rajendra Wadekar Saiyyad Habib Vijay Raut

Uttam Pawaskar Anil Tirlotkar Vilas Awasare Prashant Harchekar

Joint inspection confirmed illegalities at Devapan Mine

The Goa State Pollution Board along with water resources department , forest department, agriculture department and committee member of Cavrem Adivasi Bachao Samiti and villagers of Cavrem recently carried out a joint inspection of the Devapan Dongor mine Cavrem Quepem operated by Sheik Salim and Shaik Muktar.

There were more than 200 villagers gathered along with officials to inspect the mine which started from 11 am in the morning and lasted till 3 PM in the evening without any break for lunch.

At the time of inspection the team notice that in violation of the environment clearance which has permitted the mining activity up to the dept of about 120 mts below sea level but the mine owner has dug the pit up to the depth of about 167 mts below sea level. This has caused tremendous damage to the water resource.

It was noticed by the directorate of mines and geology that no royalties have been paid to the government since Jan 2010, till May 2010 even though the mine was in operation without there being legal consent to operate. This was confirmed by the inspecting team from visual inspection of the mine and the verbal confirmation from the directorate of mines representative. Top soil was not stored as per the environment clearance. one Water spring was totally destroyed and 2nd spring is heavily damaged. As per the EC 50 mts on both sides of the nallah should be mining free , and it was thickly vegetated with native forest trees. But the mine owners have completely buried and destroyed in total violation of environment clearance. The Indian bureau of mines did not attend the inspection but forwarded a letter stating that the mining company has violated the mining plan. The authorities were witness to large scale deforestation in private forest land, and the representatives stated that they had not encroached on land belonging to forest dept., but the team pointed out that deforestation in private forest is also contravention of the forest conservation act. All the authorities observed that mining activities had been carried out in the previous week and that the screening plant had been operational in spite of high court order and order from the Goa pollution control board.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is Quepem Bridge safe for heavy transportation?

The 45 years old bridge on Kushawati River at Quepem which is the only way to link Quepem town to Curchorem, Sanguem and other places is it safe for heavy transportation?

The 100 mts length and 20 mts height bridge on Kushawati river and known as Kushawati Bridge was constructed soon after liberation of Goa at an estimated cost of Rs.10 lakhs by Gammon India Pvt. Ltd. Company Bombay.

The work of the bridge was commence in January 1961 and the same was inaugurated on 18/11/1962. It was constructed in place of the then exiting bridge which was demolished by the then Portuguese regime on 18th December 1961.

In early 2010 the villagers of Quepem raised concern over the safety of the bridge as heavy mining transport was plying over it.

Due to the outcry made by the public the PWD Works Division XXV( R ) in April 2010 through a team of experts from Goa College of Engineering Formagudi headed by professor V. Chodankar , assisted by Dr.G. Hegde, Dr. C.S. Gokhale and S. Kakodkar conducted loading test of the Kushawati bridge.

In May 2010 the Goa Engineering Formagudi team of experts submitted their report in which they have mentioned that the bridge is safe for a maximum loading capacity of 15.4 tons.

In its report for the safety of the bridge the team of experts also suggested 7 measures which includes

1. The shot-creting/guniting may be undertaken for concrete spans to strength it and to cover the sxposed reinforcement particularly for Datta mandir side span.

2. To increase thelofe and to strengthen it, FRP wrapping may be undertaken for all three spans.

3. All the abutment may be cleared of all plants growth including penetration of roots.

4. Suitable jacketing measures may be taken for protecting pier pedestals from scouring and the water way below the may be cleaned and cleared.

5. The side rails/hand rails may be painted and strengthened wherever required.

6. The utility lines running on the bridge may be systematically supported and protected

7. Asphalting may be done for carriageway over the bridge.

That though more than 6 months have been passed apart from not taking any steps over the measures suggested by the experts for the safety of the bridge the PWD Quepem is yet to install a signboard mentioning safe loading limit of the bridge.

Assistant Engineer Rosario Pereira when question about the measures taken to prevent overloading over the bridge informed herald that his department is yet to take steps to prevent overloading over the bridge

Adv. Fredrik Pereira, convener of Quepem taluka mining affected peoples forum and instrumental in carrying out the loading test of the bridge informed that the department is not concerned about the safety of the bridge. He further informed that presently the mining trucks carry more than 20 tons over the bridge, if that continued further then one day the bridge may collapse. He further informed that the PWD is hesitating even to put sign board mentioning the loading capacity of the bridge only to protect the interest of the mining trucks and mining companies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Goa SEZ mega scam

The land in phase 4 of goa idc in verna was acquired with grants from central govt for indl growth. In the writ petition 263/08 filed by john philip and august monteiro against 5 SEZ'S in verna and the judgement & order dt 26/11/10 of the mumbai high court is a victory of the people over corruption. In the 11 petition filed in the high court the judgement clearly shows that instead of GIDC developing industries, has acted as a agent by alloting land to SEZ to bring mall, hotels etc causing 3rd party rights since section 6 of the SEZ act states that even non processing activity are permitted to be set up in the SEZ area.

The decision to allot land to 4 SEZ was held on 19/4/06 in goa idc 's 287 board meeting without proper corum which had to be 5 members but only 4 members present namely

1) babu kawlekar chairman

2) alexio sequeira

3) nitin kunkolienkar

4) a.v palekar MD

AND THE LAND WAS ALLOTED IMMEDIATELY THE VERY NEXT DAY EVEN BEFORE sez POLICY WAS NOTIFIED ON 13/7/06.

In the process allotment of open spaces and internal road were alloted free of charge without the boards permission and later charged at rs 100/-sqmts.

The allotment was done without the direction of section 16 of goa idc act by only support of luizinho faleiro and pratapsingh rane then Cm which was totally illegal.The board also decided not to levy transfer fee sub lease, assignments charges and annual lease rent for SEZ was reduced from 2% to 0.5%.

Tenders were floated for roads which were already in possesion of SEZ at the cost of rs 1,82,30,826/-

In the course of judgement the IDC lawyer stated that since there were no takers for the land in phase 4 the same were alloted to SEZ. IDC did not make it public the availability of the said land and since there were no takers the sais land should have been returned to the original owners as it was acquired

by land acquisition act under urgency clause.

The CAG report was produced in court also confirmed what the petitioners were alleging . The allotment of land has caused more than 100 cr loss to the exchequer.

The house committee under the chairmanship of manohar parrikar has to take immediate further steps to inquire and call all concerned in the scam to depose before him, responsibility have to be fixed on the concerned authority including recovery of losses caused to the exchequer from the concerned person.

The SEZ scam is the mother of all scams in goa, similar to 2G scam at the centre and of the same magnitude.

Goa is systematically destroyed by mining, land acquisition of communidade land, destruction of paddy fields and forest, hill cutting and over exploitation of water through bore wells. The action demanded are,

1) appoint professionals on board of directors if IDC,

2) stop further land acquisition for industrial estates

3) area above certain limit should be auctioned for inds,

4) perceptive plan of development of industrial infrastructure

5) all lands alloted creating 3rd party rights should be reverted to IDC including 20 pt programme in phase 4.

6) The present govt functionaries should resign on moral grounds

a) pratapsing rane

b) alexio sequeira

c) babu kawlekar

CBI investigation to be conducted and FIR filed on all guilty, also on board members who were present to confirm the minutes and on board members who remained absent for not protesting against the decision.

Petitioners

John philip pereira

august monteiro

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Destruction of mand destroyed Dhalo ustav in Quepem

By John Fernandes

Comes the month of October or for that matter once the harvest season is over in villages of Quepem and Sanguem talukas particularly dominated by the Christian Gawda Tribe , during night time one would hear the sweet sound of Dhalo Songs being played by the Christian Tribal women folk on their traditional Mand

Now this has been a past History as since last 15 years due to the rampant criticism made by the religious priest on the “Mand” which was one of the center place for performing different cultural folk dances/activities of the Gawda Tribe, resulted in destruction of the Mand, which intern resulted in wiping out the different folk dances, folk songs, such as Dhalo, which was one of the important cultural festival of the Christian Gawda Tribal women. This also resulted in wiping out the identity of the Christian Gawdas.

In village Ambaulim/Deao of Quepem taluka which are part of Ambaulim Church is consist of 10 small wards inhabitated mostly by Christian Gawdas. In some wards the population of Christian Gawda is 100% while in remaining wards the Gawda Population is 95%. Each wards was having its Mand which was the center place for performing all the cultural activities/dances such as Dhalo, Intruz etc.

Once the harvest season is over preferably in the month of October the Gawda women folk of each ward used to play Dhalo on their traditional Mand particularly during night time. In ward Copelabhat once the harvest of Nagagal peddy field is done the women folk of that ward use to play dhalo on their Mand. The Dhalo festival was performed by the Gawda Tribal women to glorify/pray the almighty or the nature for the harvest.

The Dhalos festival on the Mand was performed in odd days. On the first day of Dhalo that is on the day of commencement the wife of the ward Budwant (head of the village) use to light the Lamp which was kept in the middle of the Mand and lighted every night till the Dhalo Festival is over , followed by busting of crackers. The tribal women then use to gather on the Mand to play Dhalo. They used to stand in two different line holding each one hands and then sing different traditional songs in sweet voice on the rithm of their leg. If one minutely verifys the song each song is having a past history and conveys a message to the villager. In the Dhalo Songs there is even reference of different trees/shrubs having medicinal importance.

The different folk dances which were performed by the Tribal women during Dhalo Festival include Dhalo, Fugdi, Palom, Moraile etc. The village youth who use to gather to see the Dhalo use play “Kolimandani” in one corner of the mand.

The Dhalo Festival use to go that either 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 9 days. On the last day of the Dhalo large number of villagers including male member from that ward use to gather on the mand to participate in the closing ceremony which was referred as “Mand Nivovop”. Every member who comes on the mand used to bring paddy from their house. The paddy brought by the villagers were collected and then sold to the shopkeeper from the ward and in return sweets and puff rice (chirmuleo) were purchased which were distributed among all those present. In this way the Dhalo festival of Gawda Tribals comes to an end.

However since last 15 years due to the rampant criticism made by the religious priest to the Mand calling it as a devil place and the cultural activities performed over their by the Tribals that to without studying its concept or without studying its importance for preserving the cultural importance of the Tribals resulted in destruction of the Mand along with it, it destroyed the reach cultural heritage such as Dhalo and the typical identity of the Christian Gawdas particularly from Quepem and Sanguem Talukas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cavrem tense due to mining

Tension went high in Cavrem on Monday 22/11/2010 morning as the management of Devapan Dongor Mine operated by one Shaik Salim did not comply with the assurance given to pollution control at the hearing held on 19/11/2010.

That the villagers of Cavrem claims that the Shaik Salim Mine at Cavrem Quepem is operating sans permission from the pollution control broad to operate. Presently the hearing in respect of the said mine is under process before the Goa Pollution control board. It is learnt that at the last date of hearing held on 19/11/2010 the management of the mine has given an assurance to the officials of Goa Pollution control board that they will not start the motor to pump water, will not start the plant and will use machinery only to make road and put the rejection dump in order. However the villagers claimed that in violation of the said assurances given to the Pollution control board the management operated the mine and pump water.

The non compliance of assurances given to the Pollution control board irritated the villagers so on Monday morning at around 7.00 AM around 150 villagers gathered at the gate of the mine to high light the issue. That meanwhile the police got the information and immediately two jeep load of police from Quepem Police station headed by PSI Rahul Damsheker rushed to the site to maintain law and order. The villagers remain outside the gate of the mine till 1.00PM after which they disperse. That as soon as the villagers disperse the police also returned back. No untoward incident has been reported. However Cavrem seems to be tense due to the operation of Devapan Dongor mine. The villagers are determined not to allow the mine to operate.

Yesterday 25/11/2010 morning group of hundred villagers met Chief Minister Digambar Kamat at his Margao residence and asked him to close down the Sheikh Saalim mine in their village.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mining trucks defy High Court order

Defying High Court order which laid the timing for mining truck as 8.00AM to 6.00PM the mining truck operating via Tilamol quepem side on thursday continued even beyond 8.00PM night thereby causing traffic jam and causing inconvenience to the general public. This is about today.

Yesterday at 11.30 am, Zambaulim to Tilamol, some of the trucks overloaded with iron ore stopped one side of the road, at that time counted 221 trucks within half an hour. Each truck loaded 3 trips per day.



Illegal pumping of water from Cavrem Sheikh Salim mine


This is a blatant case of illegal mining. These pictures shows the damage this mine has caused to Hills and ground water in Cavrem, Quepem, Goa.

Cavrem people's march on the mine, police stop


On November 22 tribal people of Cavrem, Quepem marched on Sheikh Salim mine that is operating illegally in the village disrupting their water sources. Goa Police came to protect the mining company. Here are two pictures from the protest.