Monday, January 21, 2008


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.

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