Saturday, April 19, 2008

Advalpal villagers force stop Sesa Goa mine

About 50 Advalpal villagers - mostly women - today morning marched to the Sesa Goa mine forcing the mine to close down its operation. The concerned Sesa Goa mine T.C. no. 76/52 was is threatening village water sources. Villagers united to drive away Sesa Goa from their village. In fact the villagers are up in arms against the mining activities in the village and movement against the same is going on since 2005. Besides multinational Sesa Goa - owned by British company Vedanta- Salgaocars (T.C. no. 41/55) and Lithoferro (T.C. No. 89/52) are other two companies that are proving to be pests to the Advalpal villagers.

Around 1,500 strong people of this village are at the receiving end of the mining menace. The companies and the State authorities so far have been able to 'manage' the village protest by use of Carrot and stick policy - Companies have dished out cash to those willing to accept while Police has been used to silence the protests so far. DySp Shamba Sawant who has been recently transferred from Bicholim was the worse of the lot in threatening the Advalpal villagers.

However it is not going to be too long that the situation will go out of control of the mining companies as well as the State authorities in case it refuses to heed to the voices of the People. Saleli and Colamb have already created history in Goa. Advalpal may very well be next to follow.

This is particularly so because Police have registered criminal cases against the villagers on trespass charges. Sesa Goa has been instrumental in getting cases filed against 20 villagers of Advalpal. It is not just the common people that are criminally targeted by Sesa Goa but also village Sarpanch Harischandra Sawal has been targeted - politically. The Sesa Goa was served notice on illegal weigh bridge by the village panchayat; in response company got involved in dislodging village Sarpanch. So here is the case mining companies are not only involved in kingmaker roles for the Goa State Assembly members and Chief Ministers but also involved in dislodging of village Panchayat Sarpanch.

The audacity of British company to file cases against the local villages is so clearly like the case of British East India Company that ultimately captured whole of India. After 61 years of Independence we have another British Company doing the same for the Advalpal villagers. Through this action it is nurturing new breed of freedom fighters against Imperialism. Considering the behaviour of the Sesa Goa it is not difficult to imagine the kind of shape Goa is going to take in future to come about.

Sebastian Riodrigues in discussion with Shamsundar Pundalik Naik

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