Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Save Colamb from mining terrorism!

Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) yesterday marched through the streets of Panjim in a silent protest in Solidarity with People from Colamb, Sanguem, Goa. Around 120 people from different parts of Goa participated in the march. It was organised to create awareness about possible annihilation of the Colamb village from the Map of Goa if the mining industry is allowed to let loose in the village.

The banner in a protest procession blared "Save Colamb from mining terrorism". This is important as Fomentos are caring on the mining trade in Colamb against the wishes of local adivasis under police protection. State of Goa and Union of India are collaborating with mining company's act of terrorism with their active support.

After the protest march group then participated in the book release function of the CSE publication on mining "Rich Lands, Poor People" in Panjim.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

History created: Mining with Police protection in Colamb, Sanguem!

This is report MAND received yesterday January 23, 2008. We reproduce this even as same situation viz. mining with police protection and police attempsts to arrest Colamb villagers continues even on January 24, 2008.

Today January 23, 2008 is historic day in the life of India’s Goa State; People’s struggle to defend their land and agriculture has touched historic high – Goa police are providing police protection to further mining loot and mineral plunder in Sanguem Taluka’s Colamb village.

Quepem Police station has registered over 100 cases against the Colamb villagers that participated in historic march to the mine bearing TC No. 06/1949 belonging to Hiralal Khodidas and operated by Fometos.

Fomentos caused insult to the will of the Colamb villagers and Goa’s Adivasi peace loving community by deploying police force in its mine at Colamb, Sanguem and resuming the mining operation of open cast mine. Fomentos owned by businessmen Avadooth Timblo resumed its mining operation under police force. At the same time company filed criminal cases against the villagers for unlawful assembly, rioting, threats to cause death and grievous hurt, intention to break breach of peace, criminal trespass and abduction.

Today morning police began to swoop down upon the villagers with intention to arrest them. Goa’s men in Khaki’s trips to villagers’ houses reminded few of the dictatorial Salazar regimes of erstwhile Portuguese colonial State that had granted the mining leases including this one before so called Goa liberation of 1961. There was hardly any resemblance of Goa being free and progressive State today in Colamb. In fact it was more like Pakistan under emergency with four police jeeps patrolling mining site with over 50 policemen including women in police force inhaling dangerous mining dust in exchange for possibly diesel and few peanuts from Fomentos. Police were expecting the villagers to confront them today and had come with all the necessary preparation after one days rest yesterday when mine was kept closed. However it is unnecessary expenditure and burden on the State resources to provide such a large number of Police personnel for this purpose unless mining company treats Goa Police as its private security. Going by the turn of the events so far this is indeed is the case that needs urgent attention from Public who pay taxes to the State and demand accountability as to why State government is letting this show go on.

Though Police could not arrest any one so far till late night, they did show remarkable swiftness in searching the houses of the villagers; three times cops made trips to the Peoples’ houses. The police action in this case of acting against the citizens of India empowered wilh all the constitutional civil liberties and fundamental rights is indeed in sharp contrast to the way same Goa police treated the matter of murder through mine collapse of over 5 people by the mining company in Tollem, Sanguem in 2006. Police must make it public as to how many people has been charged and arrested and tried for murder? Why this case was hushed up without a single arrest? Which are the people against whom FIR has been registered? Why police are acting lethargic in arresting people in this case of Tollem Mine collapse? The answer is simple and straight forward: it is precisely because the culprit is the same: Fomento mining company. And of coarse we know the old saying ‘One who pays the bagpiper calls the tune’. Why is this state of Goa Police?

Mining industry in Goa operates its way with long chain of frauds. Take this example of Colamb itself: the chief logic of the police and the mining company is that it has got environmental clearance from the Environment ministry in Delhi. This clearance is based on the public hearing form this particular mining site that was held couple of years ago without any awareness of the same amongst public in Colamb and the affected people. And the site of this public hearing was over 30 kms away from the mining site, in Margao. This is a fraud by which Fomento mining company tricked environment ministry to give environmental clearance. It is another matter that Delhi is treating Goa as its colony for the exploitation of mineral wealth with scant respect to Peoples’ expression even in the mandatory public hearings: the case of Sarvan mining of Zantye mining company is the case in focus.

The appeal here is to the individual policemen on duty towards Fomentos: you are fortunate to have got this posting at the Colamb mining site to experience the beauty and splendor of this magnificent village. You’ll are brothers and sisters as well as citizens of this land. Would you’ll like this village to disappear from the Map of Goa? Do you like to create mass starvation, misery and hunger for people of Goa? Now that you’ll have spend day on the mine, how you’ll are feeling? Inhaling mining dust is dangerous, at least you must demand protective masks from your higher officers or your lungs will grow weaker and susceptible for tuberculosis.

Now imagine situation of the villagers in these circumstances where mining industry is on a roll, if your family was located in this situation, would you not revolt and protest? No police officer with self respect and dignity, and worth his salt would tolerate mining terrorism in Goa. This is being written only to let you know that public in Colamb does consider Police as their principal enemy. It considers mining company of Fomentos as their principal enemy simply because it is involved in such a process that will rob them of their food and shelter – the two fundamental necessities for living. This is an invitation to Goa Police to stand in Solidarity with the struggling people of Colamb and be one in their struggle for united we could shape Goa into prosperous place to live in with our agriculture and forest intact, and show mining it door ones and for all: for mining is single largest terrorist action, with central government permission or without it. It is indeed deep feeling of disgust that Goa Police is involved in protecting terrorist activity. Please detach from this immediately and take lead in dismantling this mine yourself. People of Colamb will remember Goa police of this patriotic act on their part as only model citizens can do. Surely there some highly respectable officers in Goa Police that will surely respond this call on urgent basis.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pictures from Colamb Peoples' March on the Fomento Mines

"We Want Our Right not mining company's alms!"

Colamb villagers on the Fomento mining site forcing it to close down on January 21 2008.

Colamb villagers surround mining trucks on the mine forcing the company to shut down operations for a day. Women participated in large numbers along with men.

In defence of their land and agriculture, young and Old, men and women in a bid to reclaim their dignity and livelihood. Protest march on Colamb mine 06/1949 of Hiralal Khodidas.

Condemn Police Threats of Arrest of Adivasis in Colamb, Goa

Late evening of January 21 2008 around 7.00 pm two policemen from Quepem Police Station came over to the house of Rama Velip in Colamb village in Sanguem taluka and asked him to call up PI Mhahmal in Quepem Police Station. When Rama Velip did so from his resident landline someone who identified himself as PI Mhahmal came and took the receiver and threatened Rama Velip that if the villagers continue to march on the Fomento mines then he will arrest all the villagers. The reason he gave was that the land on which open cast iron ore mine is operated by Fomentos (TC No. 06/1949 of Hiralal Khodidas) for the purpose of International mining trade is a private land. The villagers who forced themselves on the mines yesterday January 21 2008 were trespassing and therefore liable for arrests and trial for criminal trespass. Therefore according to the Police villagers must refrain from such action in the near future.

Now after proof of all the illegalities in the mine under consideration if police wants to protect mining company then is it not acting in the private interest of the mining company i.e. Fomentos? It is indeed amazing as to how one of the few upright officers currently in the Goa Police force is getting arm twisted by the mining company. Still PI Mhahmal kept the option of denial of his action by not giving the threat directly to Rama Velip and administrating it only on the phone. This is exactly the method by which mining companies have been bulldozing public interest in favor of private mining interest. However his threats needs to be taken seriously and diagnosed accordingly.

Fomentos have the reputation of using Police force to bulldoze their will over the throats of People. Ten years ago the company did exactly the same in Cacra village of Tiswadi Taluka when it wanted to annihilate this coastal village by dumping some 50,000 tonnes of cement. Police party camped at the site and the drilling operation was going on under police patrolling. The project then was the construction of Off Stockyard and Berth (OSB). The food was being supplied regularly from the nearby Fomentos five star hotel Cidade de Goa. And police was acting entirely in private interest of the corporate against public interest. Later on Fomentos got Police to illegally arrest then convener of Cacra Nagrik Vikas Samiti (CNVS) and was beaten up at Goa Velha Police station under the supervision of PI Sammy Tavares. Detail paper in this regard was presented at recently concluded state level workshop on ‘Land, Mining and Adivasis in Goa’ in Panjim.

In Colamb too few villagers were picked few months ago and harassed at the Quepem Police Station and released without any charges. The reason is that they were protesting Fomentos mining of their village. In Cavrem village a month ago message was sent to the villagers that in case they do not let the Fomentos mine to operate then it will deploy 700 policemen and carry on the mining activity under police protection. So he we have serious series of example that lead us to believe that mining industry in general and Fomentos in particular is heading to transform Goa in to Police State. It is precisely it is because of this reason that citizens and democratic forces all over the world needs to unite against Police transforming itself from defenders of citizens in democracy to mafia in uniform of the mining company. The trend indeed is dangerous and deserves our strongest protest and condemnation. Fomentos are trying to achieve what they could not by offers of Carrots by administration of Stick. It however forgets that every action has equal and opposite reaction not only in Newtonian Physics but also in Society.

PI Mhahmal could do better to read his criminal law books again, particularly study sections 96 to 101 of Indian penal Code. That will enlighten his further on law of self defense that Colamb Adivasi villagers are actioning. People are forced to physically go and close down the mining precisely due to betrayal by Judiciary of common People of Colamb. And just because judiciary and administration is silenced by mining industry people should accept death? What you say PI Mhahmal? Will you still initiate your threat? Time will tell and we shall all be watching and witnessing your and your departments’ action in this case. Please don’t forget public interest rates higher than private interest of the mining company; public will assert its interest at any cost not withstanding your threats of arrests.

For that matter had not mining companies created and run this State of Goa as their private fiefdom for past 46 years? Surely you the answer to this PI Mhamal; State has always been an executive committee of the mining industry in Goa. And State includes Police too. PI Mhahmal as a sensible officer you must apply your common sense and think before dishing out the threats that is it not worthwhile to risk one ones life in defense of ones land and livelihood? In the case of Colamb it is their rice cultivation spaces which is their primary concern; how long people can survive on compensation offered by mining companies? Only idiots who has no love for physical work in their agriculture could survive this and there are none of them in Colamb village. So if rice is gone under the mines what is to be substitute? Mining dust perhaps! Surely you agree to this PI Mhamal. Don’t you?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Colamb villagers force shut down of Fomentos Mine

In a major breakthrough to the movement of Colamb villagers seeking to defend their land and agricultural livelihood, group of over 200 villagers stormed into the Fomento mines TC No. 06/1949 and forced to shut down two of its operating units in Colamb village.

According to the reports received villagers entered the Khodidas Hiralal mine operated by Goa corporate house of Fomentos at 11.00am today January 21, 2008. Mining company was prepared to tackle the situation as it brought in 6 bouncers (Goons) from the nearby Cacora-Sanvordem area with three bike bearing registration numbers GA08 5408, GA08 2464, and GA08 D6504. The strategy of the mining company was not to involve the police and deal with the protesting villagers by the application of private muscle power. (It remains to be seen as to how Goa Police deals with the Goons brought to the mining site to threaten the villagers or is it going to be the story as usual: favour and encourage mining mafia.) The strategy however failed due to presence of over 200 villagers and also their supporters from different parts of Goa. The supporters included Arun Madgaonkar, Vithal Khandeparkar and Kalidas Savaikar.

The first thing that the villagers did was gave half an hour deadline to the mining company to shut down its operations. Written letter to this effect was also handed over the mining company by the villagers. Earlier the letter to this effect was served on the State administration on December 10 2007 by Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) during the Human Rights Day Rally. Reminder was again served on the administration a week ago. However administration chose to doze off rather than act against the erring mining companies.

When the request was turned down that the mob entered the mine and forced the machinery not only to shut down but also to dismantle the same. Machinery in both the units was forced dismantled. The staff in the screening unit fled from the seen anticipating villagers attack so there was no one working on the site when the villagers raided the mining premises. By 12.30 pm the entire mining plant was shut down and pleasing silence descended. Menacing dozers, rippers and trucks was silenced by this gutsy courage of the villagers.

Police came to the scene only when the villagers had done their job and were returning home from the mines. Four Police Jeeps with around 40 police personnel were heading towards the controversial mine. Police Chief from Quepem Police Station tried to coerce the villagers to send in 10 member delegation to the mining company’s office to talks. Of course this offer was not only turned down but police was told that in case they want to talk to the villagers than they must come to the village and express themselves. Police then calmed down from their high pedestal and came into the village with a proposal that they want to convene the meeting of the villagers and mining company in the presence of the Collector. This offer too was politely refused by pointing to the futility of such interactions in the past. Police had faced wrath of the villagers on December 10 2007 when GAKUVED led a morcha (protest march) against Quepem Police Station.

Villagers after this victory are keeping continues vigil over the situation; for under their village lies black gold called iron ore and magnesium and corporate have divided 1929 hectares of this village into 22 mining leases covering 1510 hectares, leaving only 419 hectares for the village. That will be covered under mining dumps and occupied by Forest department as reserved forest to be free from people but gifted in exchange of few brief cases to the mining companies.

With this action of the villagers of Colamb direct action just addition to December 11 2007 direct attack on mines by Cavrem villagers in Quepem taluka.

Fomentos are one of the most notorious business houses as far as their Environment record goes. Politically it shares very close family ties with the present days rulers of Goa. Co-option is done through sponsoring of Dinner parties in its five star hotel Cidade de Goa on Bambolim Coast in North Goa. Wonder when the better sense will prevail upon the Goa’s mining elites? It is better that it prevails soon or situation will force into sensible mode and try them for all the nefarious land usurpations, ecological crimes and economic swindlings.

For the moment it is time for small celebration even while we recall the way Fomentos used Forest department and other state administration to further its will. Of course other mining companies are doing the same. This time this corporate rat is in the movement’s net!


We are towards the end of the third week of 2008, and yet memories and heroic struggles that pitched at new heights in 2007 in Colamb Sanguem, Goa is only too fresh in our minds. One particular mining company that attracted people’s wrath has been the Fomentos; though its mines under lease TC No. 6 of 1949 covering 70.1870 hectares granted by colonial State of Portugal to Hiralal Khodidas continues its operation till, signs of discontents are increasing day by day and it is only a matter of time before the industry and the Government of Goa and India are forced to rethink India’s mineral policy that is currently nothing more than dig, wash and sell to China (Earlier in the decades of 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s it was Japan).

The mining industry through its agent Fomentos have been involved in massive scale torments and insult to the dignity of Colamb villagers - many of them adivasis. Mining has badly destroyed their agriculture, ripped apart their shelter like the case of Devki KatuVelip, and so many other mischief such as siltation of water bodies and agricultural lands, drying up of natural water springs, unbearable sound pollution due to machinery operated in Open Cast Iron Ore mine, subversion of democratic institutions like letting the mining company operate weigh bridge without permission and the list could go on endless.

Colamb village is at the crossroads. Mining industry with its 22 mining leases seeks to gallop 1510 hectares of Colamb's total land of 1929 hectares. The total land that remains is 419 hectares, which with all probability will be covered with mining rejects. That means mining industry in Colamb alone is going to create additional over 2000 ecological refugees. Industry here seeks to repeat what it has done in north Goa’s villages such as Pale and Pissurlem. Fomentos like other mining companies such as Chowgules, Sesa Goa, Dempos, Damodar Mangaljis, and Salgaoncars have been highly generous in chopping down mountains, disrupting agriculture besides introducing alcoholism and goondaism in mining intensive villages. A locality like Sanvordem has given rise to mafia though in its nascent stage is brought to Colamb to quell the protestors. Of course not to speak of monetary allurements offered to the villagers along with offers of pouring funds in the religious activities including constructions of religious structures. Colamb villagers under these circumstances are left with difficult choice: either perish or stand in rebellion.

This Photo Essay of 2007 dedicated fantastic vigilance to defend their dignity and livelihood by Adivasis of Colamb:

This picture is of the open cast mine under operation in 2007. It is surrounded by lush Green Mountain: in fact it is located on one of these Western Ghats forests. Mining industry is a number one threat to these lungs of the planets earth. Goa’s forest department is at number two with its assertion of control over the forest away from the adivasi people and gift wrapping the same to mining companies in various manners.

This Picture is of the agriculture – paddy field in Colamb. Perhaps we may see this for the last time in the village before macro hunger strikes the village. Wonder if Fomentos will provide food from its five star hotel Cidade de Goa deepfreeze to Colamb villagers? For how long? At what price? There could not be any worse and nasty elites to any State in the world that humiliates the cultivation spaces of the food that mass of People are dependent, than bunch of mining elites of Goa including multinational Sesa Goa.

This picture shows live the mining brutalities that are doing away with Goas’ mountains forever in Colamb.

This Picture demonstrates as to how close is mining activity to the agriculture spaces in Colamb. Though the mining companies’ attempts to cool down by offering compensation in terms of cash, oncoming hunger will create history and destroy history. If State applies repression in the battle then it will be so much the easier of history to occur. So far this has been the case: mining company would hire Goa police to terrorize the determined villagers but it ended up further strengthening the movement as people organize like never before.

Mining company first broke open the cave and then tried to hide; still cave is showing openings in this picture.

This Picture proves that it is not just agriculture that is been targeted by mining trade but also the nature itself. Opening inside the mining pit is natural cave network existing underground. State government is guilty of letting mining company to play havoc with Goas’ natural cave heritage. After villagers repeated petitions State could depute only clerk for inspection on January 02, 2008!

Mining industry has been put under intensified watch by the affected people and adivasi organization Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) in 2007.

Colamb Villagers staged road blockade of trucks going on the mining site in 2007. Mining industry shamelessly tried to get State machinery in its favor. Ultimately peoples’ will prevailed and mining transport stopped from operating in this road. Instead it created another road for itself from the forest route!

Adivasi Women came out with all their might to block road and reclaim public spaces. Police were brought in to clear way mining industry. Goa Police in mining belt too often forgets that their salaries are paid from taxes paid by public and they must refrain from causing humiliations to public only because they have told to do so by bosses of the mining industry in exchange of few perks such as additional petrol, diesel and few currency notes time and again. Police must think before acting as to whom they stand to serve: Public or Mining industry? Police are only equal citizens of this country and they must behave honorably and support movement for survival of people and their land from mining vultures.

Police are regular visitors to Colamb village in 2007. Their purpose very often has been to silence those individuals that stand in defense of their land, agriculture, water and the very life itself. Police have tough choice to make in 2008: either to be one with struggling people of Colamb and stand in defense of life or to be with mining industry and be agents of draught and death. Each policeman and policewomen including those officers from State secret intelligence agencies that visit Colamb almost every alternate day do have option to make now before it is too late.