Thursday, December 20, 2007

Goa Liberation day, Mining and Police threats in Goa

Even while Goa celebrated its Liberation day yesterday with various flags hosting in various parts of Goa, for the villagers of Cavrem in Quepem and Colamb in Sanguem it was different story; they faced police threats for protesting against the open cast mining threats.

Ever since Gawada Kunbi Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) organised its Human Rights Day Rally in Quepem town, mining industry is at the receiving end with number of villages gearing to battle mining industry. In Cavrem village in Pirla Panchayat limit villagers stormed three mining sites of different mining companies such as Fomentos, Dinar Tarcar, and brought the entire process of operation to the grinding halt since December 11 2007. In Colamb group of villagers entered Fomentos mining site operated in lease area of Khodidas Hiralal forced the company to stop work on December 19 2007. Police from Quepem Police station came searching the villagers at 11.50 am on December 19 2007. However they were forced to beat hasty retreat away by the angry village women of Colamb.

In Cavrem village, Fomento mining company through its contractor Ashok Naik threatened the villagers led by Kushali Velip with forcibly starting this illegal mining activity with the deployment of 600 Personnel from Goa Police force. According to the reports received late last evening, Fomento mining company was busy coercing the villagers to enter into the agreement to start mining activity again with the promise that it will finance renovation of existing temple in Cavrem village at the cost of Rs.2 Crores, a promise that company had given to the villagers during past three and half years. It is now remains to be seen if this carrot and stick policy of the mining company works on the villagers. If Fomento mining company succeeds in getting 600 police personnel for Goa Police and re-start its illegal mining activity then it would be understood that Fomentos Boss Avadooth Timblo is Goa's de facto Home Minister that posseses such a command to violate human rights of Cavrem adivasi villagers and slit open pristine green mountains of Maina-Cavrem.

Time is going to be the greatest witness as to how things are going to unfold in near future.

In the meanwhile GAKUVED organised Public interactive meeting in Cavrem, Quepem to asses the fruits of Goa Liberation for the adivasis of Goa on December 19 2007. Durgadas Gaonkar, GAKUVED Presedent, highlighted the role of Colamb Communidade is marginalizing and ultimately eliminating Velips from the Communidade records of the village.

Kushali Velip from Cavrem village explained the problems faced by the villagers due to open cast iron mining and how the villagers united to assert thier rights.

Rama Velip from Colamb shared his views about tackling mining industry of Goa and need to creat inter village solidarity to stop official government machinery and mining industry harrasing the villagers.

Ulhas Gaonkar from Morpilla shared about the ongoing struggle of his villagers against proposed Bauxite mining on Quepem-Salcete border covering 300 hactares of fertile land. He aslo shared about struggle against Vijay Mallya's proposal to set beer factory and villagers opposition to the same.

Advocate John Fernanades from Ambaulim explained that most of the people who took money from mining companies and sold thier land have suffered in their lives. He also touched upon the depletion of water table due to mining that is going to cause in the Cavrem village in case mining begins again.

Devidas Gaonkar from Khotigao explained about harrasment meted out to the adivasis inside Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and registered his protest about the same.

Anand Velip dealt on the great suffering of agriculture caused because of mining in Sanguem Taluka. He also shared his experience in fighting mining company in his village of Valkini in Sanguem taluka.

Motesh Antao of Colamb stressed need for mining truck drivers to engage in protest against mining industry as the drivers job as well as life of their truck is short term while the agriculture that is being destryed by mining industry is a sustainer for generations together.

Sebastian Rodrigues, Cordinator of MAND explained how Portuguese colonial legacy in Goa is being perpetuated through mining industry and congratulated the villagers for opposing mining in their village through various means including by blocking road used by mining trucks.

In the meanwhile Cavrem villgers got the resolution against mining within Pirla Panchayat jurisdiction passed at the Gram Sabha on December 19 2007. Indeed it is noteworthy initiative of the villagers and movement of adivasis in defence of their community rights from the mining industry.

Sebastian Rodrigues with inputs from Ulhas Gaonkar, Rama Velip and Anand Velip

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