Monday, December 31, 2007

Arise, Learn and Struggle: Call from anti-Bauxite mining public meet in Morpirla, Goa

Even as year 2007 is coming to an end protest against bauxite mining are only begining in a serene village of Morpirla in Goa's Quepem Taluka. On 30th December 2007 Morpirla Bachao Samiti organised public meeting to protest against this move of the private enterprise Shakti mines. Various speakers addressed this public protest gathering that was attended by nearly 400 Morpirla villagers.

Around 800 hactares of land is sort be acquired for the mining purpose covering the the villages in the Panchayat jurisdictions of Betul, Fatorpa, Velim, and Morpirla. It is only on Decemeber 09 2007 that the villagers became aware of this when Gawada, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) team consisting of its President Durgadas Gaonkar and Rama Velip visited Morpirla with notice of public hearing published in local newspapers. Corner meetings, house to house visits, etc are in the progress to mobalize the villagers against the bauxite mining project.

Katu Velip pointed to the irony in the government planning system as Morpirla village was selected for government's watershed management programme and even implimented to re-charge ground water table; and now Bauxite mining will run their village water table towards depletion.

Narayan Velip branded mining in Goa as Cancer that needs to be dealt with seriously and Morpirla village must be prevented from contracting the same.

Chandrakand Kavlekar, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Quepem constituency disclosed that the bauxite mining company has requested the permission to mine 10 lakh tonnes of Bauxite per year. "This is going to be disaster for the cluster of our villages", he warned. He urged the villagers to organise themselves and fight against the the bauxite mining company. He further disclosed that mining company's lease has expired in 1998 and still it is proceeding with land acquisition process; hoping to get the permission from the Central government in India.

Sebastian Rodrigues, MAND coordinator and volunteer of Nature Environment Society and Transformations (NEST) volunteer explained the critical links between Bauxite mining and global war industry. He pointed out that Bauxite mining is promoted to boost corporates dealing with missile productions which in times of war causes only misery to common people from all over the world where ever wars are fought. Bauxite mining in Morpirla and surrounding villages are getting these villages in the global chain of war industry. He said that protest against bauxite mining in Morpirla is also protest against global war industry. He expressed his support to the Morpirla Bachao Samiti in the ongoing protest.

Advocate John Fernandes declared his support to opposition to mining in Goa and pointed out that 80% of people in Goa's mining belt have suffered because of mining. He alerted the villagers to demand 'call letter' from the police officials in case State tries to arrest the protesting villagers in near future, and not to get scared of the State power and Police intimidation tactics.

Rama Velip from Colamb Bachao Samiti expressed words of support from villagers of Colamb that are battling iron ore mining.

Deepak Karmalkar from GAKUVED called for sustained non-violent movement against bauxite mining in Goa.

Bhiva Katu Velip from Morpirla explained that bauxite mining will ruin the village and said that this planet earth needs to be passed on the future generation intact just as his generation have inherited the same from past generations.

Bhikudas Velip from Bernude village and Member of Balli Panchayat shared his experience of fighting the State power in the case of land aquisition for Garbage dumping purpose. He called upon villagers of Morpilla to 'Arise, Learn and Struggle'.

Sita Velip from Saptakoteshwar Mahila Mandal pointed out that bauxite mining will make grazing of their cattles impossible as the grazing lands will go under the mining leases. She called upon the women of Morpirla to participate in anti-bauxite mining protests.

Damodar Mangueshkar from GAKUVED urged women to come out boldly to fight bauxite mining project in Morpirla and neighboring villages.

Durgadas Gaonkar, GAKUVED president criticized the Communidades for handing over surface rights to mining companies and called upon the villagers to step up their vigilance against activities of communidades in this regards. He expressed his regrets that Communidades that originally belonged to adivasi people called 'Ganvkaris'; have been taken control by handful of attorneys and are involved in negotiating the adivasi lands for mining companies like the one for bauxite mining in Morpirla and another one for magnesium mining in Colamb. He gave example of Colomba Communidade wherein adivasis are thrown out from the Communidade records even as their names are present in Portuguese records of 1882. He called upon the younger generation to get involved in research and trace the historical process as to how elimination of adivasis specially Gawadas, Velips as Gaonkars have been conceptualized and implimented, and then reclaim their collective land rights.

He come down heavily against the conduct of Police in harrasing villagers of Colomba that are standing in defence of their land from mining invasion.

Ramesh Gauns, a teacher from Bicholim involved in mining related protests in Bicholim taluka said Dempo mining have caused dust pollution, risky roads and water depletion in Bicholim Taluka of Goa. He further predicted that if mining activities continued then there is going to be no drinking water in Goa after 10 years; and people of Goa will have to beg for water. He said if the Goa Government wants then it can stop Morpirla bauxite mining project immidiately as it had done so in case of bauxite mining closures in Poiguinim village one year ago. He declared his support to the Morpirla Bachao Samiti in their defence against mining industry.

Ulhas Gaonkar compared while Ratnakar Velip proposed vote of thanks.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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