Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mining Officials held hostage, released at Colamb, Sanguem

Two mining officials and eight workers of the Margao based Raissa mining services were held hostages by the Colamb villagers when they went there to inspects land to start mining mining activity on December 11 2007. Mining company officials disclosed that they were sent to the village by Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Goa Joaquim Alemao and presented MLA's visiting card as Managing Director of the Raissa Mining Services.

The episode began at 10.30 am when gathered villagers surrounded mining company officials along with official from Colamb Communidade whom villagers suspect has been in collusion with the mining company to grant land for mining purspose at Borgalli Dongor, Colamb. Communidade official Venkatesh Pradhudessai managed to fled from the scene while company officials were caught by the group of around 40 villagers most of whom were women.

Villagers fear that villagers life is going to become riskier if open cast mining comes up. Colamb village faces threat of getting wiped off from Map of Goa with mining land under mining leases covering 1510 hectares of total village land of 1929 hectares. Besides Joaquim Alemao, Fomentos are operating the mines in the village but also facing tremendous pressure from the village to close down due to severe damage to their agriculture.

The villagers, mostly adivasis took the written undertakings form the mining officials G. Pravavananda and Jayaram that they will not visit again the village on behalf of Raissa mining Services " We today came to visit the mine. Once again we will not come to the same mine. We self and company members will not visit again Borgalli Dongor proposed mine and mine related activities." The workers who were detained by the villagers included Ashok G. Palkar, Ramdas G. Gaonkar, Vijay, Madhu, Nilesh Naik, Prem Singh, Umesh Gaonkar and Kamjakar Gaonkar. Most of them are from nearby Sivsorem village where in Joaquim Alemao operates his open cast iron ore mine causing irreparable damage to environment and acute water shortages and dust pollution to the nearby villagers.

Goa government however is letting theses corporates to rip through the very essence of Goa, its mountains in Sanguem and other takulas by keeping itself busy in the annual filmy shows of international standards; it is now left upto the common people to take assertion of their rights at a new level. Large protest rally on December 10 2007 organised by Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) in Quepem town is only the beginning of this assertion.

Company officials and the workers were released at 1.00 pm only after police from Quepem Police Station came to Colamb and asked the villagers to target Colamb Communidade who is acting in collusion with the mining company.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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