Saturday, December 15, 2007

Colomba Communidade succumbing to mining Land acqusition

Even while people of Colomba are up in arms against annihilation of their village under open cast iron ore and manganese leases, its Communidade seems to be betraying the villagers. At a proceedings of land acquisition in Margaon yesterday 14th December 2007 attorney of Colomba Communidade Venkatesh Prabhudesai argued that Communidade is willing to give its land provided mining company is willing to build temple for the village. This statement from the attorney who all this while was arguing against open cast iron ore mining in Colomba has shocked the Colomba villagers who were present during the hearing of the case.

Going by this irresponsible position taken by the attorney all the proposed mining will have their way once they build religious structures. Nexus of religions and mining companies are well known in Goa. Dempos have sponsored large amounts of funds for a temple at Mulgao - and yet Mulgao is under mining pollution particularly its water bodies, it is also sponsoring annual Hindu festival called Novo Somar in Bicholim - and Bicholim is swallowed by Dempo mining Corporation, Dempos are also sponsoring Pejeachem Fest in Siridao in Tiswadi - yet Siridao land is unscrupulously taken over by Dempos. Dempos are responsible for massive degredation of Environment, water depletion and dust pollution in Bicholim taluka and other parts of Goa. This nexus is proving its existence once again in Colomba village with Communidade attorney playing the traitor to the village.

Communidade of Colomba's lands originally belongs to the adivasi people - Gawdas and Velips. However they were cheated during the Portuguese colonial rule and their land were transferred into the Brahmin's control by destrying their Gaonkary system, converted the same into communidade system to have overall control. Now this land is sought to be handed over to the mining company to be operated by MLA Joaquim Alemao's Raissa Mining Services based in Margao. The adivasis were losers when their lands were transferred to communidades during Portuguese colonial rule, and now they stand to loose every thing even the breathing of clean and safe air, and not to mention of water to drink and cultivate.

Goa's liberation did not reverse this trend, instead it's land continued under the Brahmin's control and there has never been demand for handing over land of communidades back to the adivasis to whom it originally belonged. This is largely because of lack of education and conscientization to this effect. However the situation is fast changing and these questions are gadually being raised. It is only a matter of time before their voice becomes a roar.

Mining of this land is a part of larger plan to mine 1510 hectares of this village land. The village has total of 1929 hectares of land. This is indeed very serious and alarming situation that may lead to major contests.

Land acquisition proceedings are underway to take over 87.8530 Hectares of pristine forest land under the control of Communidade of Colomba. Proceedings are going on before the Special land acquisition officer, Additional Collector Prassanna Acharya in Margao Goa. The land acquisition proceedings began with application to this effect by the Lease Concession holder of T. C. no. 18/1956 M/s Marzook & Cadar Pvt. Ltd. on 19th September 2007. The case number of this dangerous land acquisition for open cast iron ore mining is 1-2007/mining/company/AC1/32. The case is being contested between M/s Marzook & Cadar Pvt. Ltd. versus the two respondents namely, Administrator of Communidade, South Goa and Communidade of Colomba through their attorney.

This mining lease like all other leases in Goa was granted by the earstwhile Portugal colonial government in 1956. Goa attained its so called liberation in 1961 yet the actions of colonial government continues to be valid in 'liberated' Goa

Communidade seems to have no regrets on forgoing its surface rights. It is indeed the cause of Goa's peril that such as Communidade of Colomba and its attorneys are in existence. It is now up to the common people to defend their village from mining company, mining contractor as well as Communidade of Colomba.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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