Tuesday, December 11, 2007

GAKUVED observes International Human Rights Day in Goa.

Gawada, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) observed International Human Rights Day on December 10 2007 with a protest march and public meeting in South Goa's Quepem Town. Protest rally also marched to the Quepem police station and submitted the memorandum of demands. Memorandums was also submitted to Quepem deputy collector as well as deputy superintendent of Police, Queem. Later on Public meeting was organised at Quepem Town.

Sebasatian Rodrigues, Coordinator, Mand, explained the importance of International Human Rights Day and need to defend Human rights of adivasi community in Goa particularly in relation to Forest, Real Estate and open cast mining activities.

Dr. Audoot Prabhudesai told as to how the village of Colamb is going to be affected by the mining activites and how water resources will get depleted, dust pollution, accidents on roads, how the school children are going to be affected in near by school.

Arun Madgaonkar spoke about the effects of the mining in Goa and how people are going to suffer. He said that effects of mining remains for three hundred years till it retains its original fertility. He requested people to remain united to fight for ill effects that are going to be caused because of mining.

Pravin Sabnis of Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) spoke about people from Keri and Verna villages that have stopped the SEZ work peacefully. He requested the people present to gather on 14th December at Lohia Maidan, Margao for a rally and meeting against SEZ. Ramesh Gauns gave details about the mining activities that are taking place in Goa and its effects. He said that he is not against the mining but the violations of human rights by the mining companies with the help of local government.

Kushali Gaonkar highlighted how the judiciary is delaying the matters of the citizens for years and frustrating the people; sometimes, withdraw the cases, at bureaucracy level and also government is not taking any measures to expediate matters.

Jitendra Savoikar Explained how he is fighting against the mining company since last one year at Vathadev, Bicholim. He appealed to the people to be united and fight.

Devidas Gaonkar highlighted about the people in Khotigao village as to how they are harassed by the forest officials when adivasis go to forest to collect the fire wood. Forest officials snatches away the Koita - the traditional weapon of people without which they cannot live. He also highlighted about the trenches dug by the forest department blocking roads for the people as well as for cattle.

Rama Velip from Colamb briefed about the agitation in Colamb village and how the common man is affected and going to be affected, water level being depleted, field becoming infertile, and dust pollution of the people staying around.

Durgadas Gaonkar, GAKUVED President, addressing the gathering said that GAKUVED is working for the defence of adivasis and the motive behind observing this day is to protest violation of human rights at every level by the State as well and by mining lobby. He pointed out that in case of Khodidas Hiralal mining, despite of proving from the government records only that the ongoing mining is illegal, Goa government is not taking any action to stop the mining. There are 22 mining activated in Colamb but according to government only one mine is in working condition but the same is illegally functioning as per the list submitted by department of mines and geology. With regard to the land issue, People of Cacra, Nauxi, Bambolim, Odxel and other villages of Tiswadi taluka are facing threats of eviction from the real estate sharks such as Aldeia de Goa, Prestige group of companies, Salgaoncar mining company, Fomentos mining comapny, and several other who have ploughed their capital into the real estate busiiness and desperate for every inch of land. These villages were originally practicing agriculture but after takeover of their land for construction of Goa University they were forced to shift their occupation from agriculture to fishing. And now again they are facing threat of evictictions. He urged the villagers to keep their unity to fight against mining lobby and GAKUVED will always be with them.

Other members who spoke on the occasion were Palmira Dias, Jose Vaz, Adv. John Fernanades, Gajanand Raikar. Vote of thanks was proposes by Mathias Fernades. Pobre Fernandes compared the human rights day rally.

(Report prepared with inputs from Babal Gawade, Ulhas Gaonkar and Anand Velip. Picture by Adv. John Fernandes)

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