Saturday, May 31, 2008
By Sebastian Rodrigues
Mand - An Adivasi Rights Resource Centre,
An initiative of Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED)
Nature, Environment, Society and Transformations (NEST)
31st May 2008
Perhaps it would have been better idea for those who concerned about Goa, its people, its nature and its mechanisms of maintaining civil liberties and defending freedom to start planning for what I call Goa Freedom Plan 2061. In 2061 we in Goa would be completing 100 years of liberation from colonial yoke of erstwhile Portuguese rulers for few centuries; in some parts of Tiswadi taluka it lasted for 451 years!
Perhaps it would be better idea to thinks through the parameters of freedom: do we as people possesses capacities to preserve our privilege as free people or are we heading towards enslaving ourselves into another long period and may be even irreversible process of bondage at some power? Are our capacities to thinks, reflect, mobilize and network sufficiently expanded to take on the tide that confronts us?
These thoughts come glaringly across my mind as I read through and reflect on Interim report of the Goa Regional Plan 2021 prepared by Task Force in April 2008. The plan is a well orchestrate exercise to subvert spaces of freedom currently available and in its place institute rule of Capital to enslave everyone in Goa. Let’s examine the report from this perspective here.
1. The report seeks to implement bottom up as well as top down approach simultaneously (pages 5-6). It is absolutely ridiculous that two approaches be implemented simultaneously. It is without doubt that the actual intent of the brains behind the report is top-down approach. It is only for accumulating legitimacy that the bottom-up is mentioned without any responsible position. Transferring entire responsibility to an NGO called Peaceful Society is a deliberate irresponsible escapist action on the part of the State of Goa.
2. ‘In the ultimate analysis planning is what we want to become’ is one sentence that stands out bold on page 7. The question however is that to whom does ‘we’ refer to? Does it refer to the Industry, Beaurocrats, Businessmen, professional, migrants, labour, women in margins, Adivasis, oppressed groups within Goa, Real Estates, Gamblers from all over the world; who wants to shape Goa for 2021? The report does not give any direct answer but deductions can be distilled after careful reading between the lines. ‘We’ refer to those powerful lobbies with floating capital to invest and shrink spaces of Freedom.
3. Table 4 on page 11 projects decline population of three Talukas in 2021: Bicholim, Canacona and Pernem. What are the factors that are going to be causing this decline in population is entirely missed out. What is the basis of these projections?
4. Page 12 however makes it ample clear as to the shape that is sought to be given towards transforming Goa into another metro by 2021. It audaciously presents that large number of villages will be absorbed in municipal fence and will be re-classified as municipal. It even predicts that 12.60 lakh people will live in municipal area and 5.40 lakh people will be left in Panchayat jurisdictions. Undoubtedly it is the real estate/builders are behind these projections as without rapid constructions these projections will never become a reality.
5. The same page 12 goes further to add that Pisciculture will flourish that means more breakage of Goa’s bands in Khazan lands can be expected to be actively encouraged. It also notes that cash crops like Cashew and improved paddy cultivation will flourish. Note here improved paddy cultivation is referred as cash crop and we could only expect that likes of Syngentas, Monsantos, Zuaris will not only continue but further tighten the grip on Goa’s food systems. Now you know to whose interest this report is serving? It is catering to big Indian Capitalists like Birlas and Multinational companies from all over the world.
6. The source and methodology of projection is again at the mercy of guess work on page 12. Regarding workforce it projects 54% to be in tertiary sector, 25% in Secondary sector and 21% in primary sector. The basis of this projected change is not disclosed and hence its projection methodology is defective to the core.
7. In spite of requests by some presenters, the very real threat to Goa’s coast due to rise in sea level – thanks to global warming - has been deliberately ignored. There is not even an indirect hint on as to where the coastal people are going to be relocated in the event of submergence of he coasts. This ignorance is understandable. This is where projection exercise was needed and report has failed in this again. If the coastal populations are to be relocated in the hinterlands, hinterlands must be life worthy. Rampant mining in the hinterlands has made these areas devoid of life worthiness. The question remains to all of us where are coastal people going to be resettled once the sea level drives coast into uninhabitable situations?
Perhaps the State of Goa plans to offer sacrifice of its people to the Arabian Sea. This question has remained unanswered mainly due to the domination of the mining industry. It has been instrumental in suppressing this entire issue so that their ongoing export to China goes uninterrupted. Who cares for the people any way – they may be coastal people or the hinterland people? Mining determines everything in Goa.
8. Corporate desire to shape up Goa again has come to the fore on page 20 when it is proposed that State establishes land bank. It suggests that land be given in custody of land bank till 2021 to protect it from conversions. This suggestion is only to transfer control of land in the hands of those powerful corporate houses that will be controlling the State of Goa. So you know who is behind this suggestion as well!
9. There is another legitimizing attempt when the report declares on page 20 that “Land acquisition be strictly used for government projects. If not land be ideally reverted back to its owners.” There could not be any bigger joke in the report than this; when the real need is to push for repeal of Land Acquisition Act due to such an intense abuse of this law - anything under the sun gets classified as public purpose i.e. golf course, starred hotels, industrial estates, etc – report has chosen to cover itself up in rhetoric of return of land to the owner. The dividing line between the pubic and the private has been steadily growing thinner. In fact the State itself is becoming privatized. This is a biggest threat inbuilt into the report for the parameters of Freedom.
10. On page 21 it is given that contribution of mining sector is in Goa amounts to 4% of GSDP for the year 2005-06. Why comparative analysis not undertaken for the past 50 years of mining trade in Goa and arrived at mature understanding on this? Now what you make out of this statistics that says contribution of mining is 4% of GSDP and geographical area it occupies is 8% of Goa? Why task force did not recommend discontinuation of mining trade in Goa? That is because mining companies not only have been effectively influencing this report but also has Minister of Mines as its chairman that also happens to be Goa’s Chief Minister.
11. Similarly statistics on agriculture has been presented in tricky manner. On page 22 it points out that Agriculture contributes 5.6% of GDP but occupies largest amount of land – 1367.81 Sq. Kms in 2005-06. Report what actually remain short of saying that agriculture as an option is to be closed and all land to be diverted either for mining or for industry or for real estates. In addition no reference is present at all to the Puran Shethi lands that have been submerged due to erecting of mini dams inside Mhadei River. Section on agriculture does not take into account loss of crop lands already due to various so-called development projects.
12. Similarly on the same page 22 report talks of Coconut groves but does not utter a single word about how much loss of Coconut groves already taken place in projects similar to Aldeia de Goa in Bambolim where in over 5000 coconut trees were chopped down to make way for luxury tourism.
13. Page 23 mentions about Kullagars – Arecanut cultivations – in Sattari, Ponda and Sanguem. It is indeed very crucial to question as to why Kullagars in Bicholim not referred at all. Is it because mining activities there have erased it from the memory? Also there is no estimate on future of Kullagars in Sattari and Sanguem in the context of rapid mining expansion plans. And of course there is absolute silent as to how the once owners of Kullagars – adivasis: Gawdas - have now become the laborers on the Kullagars and ownership has been fraudulently shifted in the hands of Brahmins. Mere elucidations on productions - that are absent in the report though - is not enough, one needs to get into discussion on equity as well.
14. Page 25 admits mining is creating negative impact on agriculture. However report suffers from major defect that it does not have any statistics on how much agricultural land is lost to mining for the past 5 decades and what projected loss of agricultural land is for the next two decades.
Also there is no data on loss of agricultural land due to irrigation projects such as Puran Shethi on Madei River, Irrigation Pipeline in Carambolim that blocked farmers’ access to the fields, and Submergence of agricultural spaces due to constructions of Dams on various rivers in Goa.
Report comments that traditional horticultural cultivation such as coconut, Mango, areca nut cashew and pineapple is ignored. Report does not try to unravel the causes to this not does it take into account where in cultivators are force to stop the cultivation of these due to open cast iron ore mining invasion.
15. Then out of blue comes an unusual statement on page 25: agriculture was a backbone of Goan economy. The point however is that in which period agriculture was a backbone of Goan economy. Why the authors of this report fail to identify the period? The report however does not make any comments on what is the backbone of Goan economy.
16. Page 26 is full of technical suggestions to manage Goa’s Khanzan land. It proposes to scrap tenancy Act to promote agriculture, transferring of maintenance of bunds to Panchayats, Formations of ‘Agency for planning and management of Estuarine and Khazan Areas’, and formation of ‘Integrated Estuarine and Khazan Area Development plan’. Clearly through these mechanisms the orientation is sought to be brought in where in the control of Khazan lands will shift increasingly towards State. The countless number of skilled people who reclaimed these lands from the Arabian Sea and various rivers for so many thousands of years have been conveniently forgotten at the stroke of pen.
17. Agriculture department has been assigned role of providing technological inputs to farmers with ‘better seeds and farming techniques’. There is however no audit of the existence of indigenous variety of seeds in Goa and how new seeds and practices have been introduced since 1961. Also there is no specification of what better seeds and farming techniques means. Better for whom? Farmers? State? Multinational Corporations? Fertilizer Companies? Pesticides companies? Seeds companies? There is absolutely no elucidations in task force report on these issues. Why?
In fact the report goes one step forward and suggests exploration of Contract farming. This is another way of handing over control of agriculture to the corporate houses. How do parameters of Freedom weigh in all this?
18. Page 31 talks mentions about protecting common grazing rights. Wonder why a routine violation of grazing right in Khotigao Wild Life Sanctuary has been overlooked here. Why is that trenches have been dug preventing cattle from wondering in their traditional grazing lands? What way common grazing lands proposed to be protected – no detailed outline available in the report. In which case, the report reduces itself to mere rhetoric.
19. Page 33 alerts us that Forest produce seems on decline. The use of words like seems in the planning documents like this one are unacceptable. The document reduces its credibility tremendously. Even with the entire government machinery at its command with Chief Minister as its chairman outcome as guess work is unacceptable. The situation either has to be confirmed or rejected. If confirmed that factors needs to be identified as to why Forest produce is on decline. What measures needs to put in place to increase the same.
Similarly, on Forest Policies the report is silent on future of Monoculture plantations that Forest department has been carrying on for the past four decades in Goa. It is also silent on closing down and cancellation of mining leases in Forest areas including inside Sanctuaries and buffer zones. So one can safely conclude from this position that ongoing honeymoon of the forest department with mining companies will continue into 2021 until entire forest lands disappear forever.
20. When it comes to fishing on page 37 the report is understandably silent on siltation of rivers like Zuari, Mandovi and Kushavati due to mining and resultant decline in fisheries. This is deliberately created siltation so that Goa’s rivers will be continuously at the mercy of mining companies. The report is also silent on dredging policy in the rivers like Sal for the benefit of Casinos and luxury tourism. It is silent on measures on making fish available to local population at affordable price.
21. On Page 40 Colamb mining struggle finds its echo in the report. It is recorded that the village of Columb in Sanguem taluka, where 22 mining leases are awaiting revival will cover 14 sq. kms out of total village area of 19 sq. kms! It admits that agricultural village is under the shadow of being completely consumed by mines. Task force however restricted itself in expressing helplessness as current laws permits only paltry compensation and there is no provision for any relief. Now this is indeed very frightening situation that after knowing Colamb case Task Force has refrained from recommending cancellation of the mining leases. Also it has refused to learn lesson from Columb and order investigations into other villages under mining leases and present maps of the villages that are likely to go extinct. Task force is either incompetent or is being dictated by mining companies in its agenda.
In fact it on page 42 task force lifts up solution from mining companies books and attempts to make it the solution of the State government when it recommends “Social condition of the people in mining villages to be improved and the mining companies to upgrade existing water supply, sanitation facilities and provide up-to-date health facilities in the mining belt.” With this recommendation task force confirms that it is so vulnerable and actually played into agenda of the mining companies. Mining companies will destroy natural village water bodies like the one that is being done in Sivsorem mines in Sanguem and then mining companies will influence State government to get water pipeline from Salaulim water Dam! What logic is this? Or take the example of Kond village in Rivona Panchayat jurisdiction: entire village is selected for mining and the habitat of people in the village is very soon going to be history. In few years time you will not find anything else in the village other than mining pits! Task force ironically suggests that abandoned mines then be used as water reservoirs!
Ridiculous positions of the Task Force does not stop here, on Page 42 it recommend mining even in the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) – I with the permission of the Environment and Forest Ministry which is so easy to get in exchange of a brief case or two like how 73 mining leases got clearances in the past couple of years that too with People’s opposition at the time of conducting mandatory Public Hearings under the law.
Besides, the report is silent on how many water bodies have been dried up due to mining for the past half century in Goa. The silence is unacceptable; Task force must labor hard and present these statistics in the report and so also projections of how many more water bodies to go dry in the next two decades.
Page 43 declares to promote Eco-tourism, Heritage tourism, Event tourism and Medical tourism. It only misses Mining tourism to explain to the world how Goa’s mining industry and the Goan and Indian States has been shrewd butchers of nature and it’s People? Undoubtedly it will be huge success. There is nothing like marketing Goa’s biggest scandal in tourism market. Task force ought to take serious cognizance of this suggestion as it is destined to fetch huge foreign exchange for government of India. Innovative thinking is important!
22. Task force not only has completely failed to address adivasis in Goa – they seem absent – on the contrary it has selected one tribal village – Dharbandora - for special treatment. It mentions on page 85 that under the tribal sub-plan low cost sanitary units will be provided to few tribal villages, one of them being Dharbandora in Sanguem. On the one side through the sanitary units it tries to assert its legitimacy with the tribal population, on the hand it does something very dangerous. On page 47 it mentions about setting up of Hazardous Waste Centre in Dharbandora. In fact it mentions that it is already functioning. There is no information as to how decision was arrived at to locate this Centre in tribal area, when was it located? What has been its performance report? What are the regular health monitoring mechanisms put into place in Dharbandora and surrounding villages? What are the benefits to the village due to the setting up of this Centre? Which are the industries that are dumping their hazardous waste in Dharbandora? Syngenta – Swiss multinational company has admitted that it is dumping its hazardous waste in Dhabandora in its recent REIA report for expansion and it was criticized by Dr. Claude Alvares for doing this at February 29, 2008 public hearing at Old Goa. According to the Survey report on the scheduled tribes of Goa released by the Directorate of Social Welfare, Government of Goa, in February 2004, Dharbandora village had 1,913 tribal households. It is village with highest tribal households in Sanguem taluka and they have been given toxic treatment. Task force supervised and legitimized this entire episode.
23. Task Force report has inbuilt bias against beach shacks. It is because it champions the cause of the luxury tourism. On page 50 it identifies shacks on beaches as source of pressures of tourism. It has failed to look at take over of large tracks of lands in many instances tribal Homelands for the luxury projects purposes. Aldeia de Goa has been asserting tremendous pressures on Nauxi and Bambolim villages. The expansionists’ designs of Fort Aguada Beach resort (owned by Tatas) threatened to take over Sinquerim Plateu for Five Star hotel. Morjim Beach is continuously eyed by Five Star hotels. Canacona Beaches are continuously preyed by agents of luxury tourism. Current locations of Starred hotels blocks public access to the beaches. Starred hotels like Leela Beach Resort in Cavelossim was built by cutting down of large number of precious sand dunes. The water that is diverted for luxury tourism is several times more; task force ought to provide these statistics. Instead is has become unacceptably silent on this count too.
24. Without providing performance report of the existing government housing boards, on page 56 report suggests setting up of land estates on the lines of Industrial Estates exclusively for building affordable houses. The process followed here to arrive at decisions is inherently defective.
25. On Health front page 61 presents frightening statistics is thrown out: In Goa, majority of cases that occurred have been due to acute respiratory infection. In 2006, 25,559 persons have suffered due to this cause. Pulmonary tuberculosis reported is 2228 during the same period. However task force has not attributed any causes for this. Why? Also there is no geographical spread sheet is presented, as well as time line data of these diseases since 1961 is provided. Indeed very sketchy and superficial engagement with the subject without any devotion whatsoever.
26. 'Goa university to be Central University' is a good recommendation on page 69. Not only will it make education affordable like in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi but also it will stopped politicians from Goa messing up with University system including appointment of Vice Chancellors. Presently cost of education is very high and has become almost unreachable as State in Goa thought it was wise to keep education within the confines of economically well off. The point however that is missed is the land that is used for setting up of Goa University is actually tribal homeland used for cultivation purposes. There is no recognition of this fact at all anywhere.
27. Page 68 points to the scenario where in from 1990-2006, 106 government schools got closed down (82 primary schools and 24 middle schools). During 2006-2007, 103 government primary schools were having enrolment below 10. There is no explanation in the report for these drastic developments on education front. Has primary education in Goa reached crisis situation?
Further quoting Madhav Kamat report of 2006 task force report points that 50% of all government schools have no toilets, 10% have no electricity, 37% have no water, and 64% have no compound wall. What the task force missed is, how many schools have been disrupted due to mining activities? Primary school at Sonxi near Pissurlem is half under mining dumps. How many schools are going to be uprooted with mining expansion plans? Projections to this effect must be made available by Task Force. Without paying attention to these basics of education Task force subtly goes ahead in recommending IITs and IIMs for Goa. IITs in India has been major source of brain drain; wonder from where this idea has come to Task Force.
28. While talking about water on page 79 report has conveniently glossed over water bodies including wells that are dried up due to mining. This is a gross unaccountability on the part of Task Force. What is going to be water availability in the scenario of all the mining leases getting activated in Goa? No projections are presented in the report. Its suggestion however, to implement education in water conservation at school level is good. The question is - Will mining activities leading towards drying up of water sources slashing down of mountains figure anywhere in the syllabus?
The report is silent on mining threats to Public Water Supply: threats to Opa Water Works, Salaulim water dam, Assanora water works etc. This is a most criminal neglect on the part of task force.
Table 24 even provides factually doubtful information: it points that WTP in Canacona on River Talpona supplies 5 MLD water to Sattari taluka including Valpoi and other 4 villages. Is water from Canacona coming to Sattari? Map No. 4 of Regional Water Supply Scheme does not indicate this. Why this factual confusion introduced in the report? The report is also silent on water meant for irrigation being diverted for industry and luxury tourism.
29. There are some important observations on ground water havoc created by industry, mining and tourism, it says, “Industry is the highest consumer of ground water meeting half of its demand through this source. In some areas of the State, especially the mining belt people prefer to use water from wells over piped water especially in the monsoon because the quality of piped water is poor due to high turbidity. In the coastal areas too there is a high level of ground water extraction because of a higher demand-supply gap.” The report overlooks situations of villages like Pissurlem in Sattari and Mayem wherein village well goes dry from November onwards. In Mayem alone 300 well go dry in summer. While in Pissurlem villagers have to depend upon mining companies for the supply of daily water requirements through water tankers. Task force ought to spend at least a week in each of these villages to understand ground reality of ground water scene. Also serious notes needs to be taken of villagers that are up in arm in Colamb, Advapal, Saleli, Sarvan, Cavrem and other parts of Goa covered by mining.
On page 82, Ground water contamination sources are identified as due to mining, Coastal aquifers due to sewage contamination, Sea water intrusion in coastal aquifers due to high extraction in summer, urban sewage, solid waste and industrial disposal and industrial effluents are threats, Agricultural pesticides, fertilizers, agricultural waste disposal pose pollution threat. Although these sources are identified there are no firm steps suggested to check and stop ground water contamination.
Report however is quick in providing solution to water shortage to the industry on page 83: “the supply of raw water directly to industry would reduce the demand for treated water. This should be immediately undertaken.”
30. SEZ seems still on the agenda of the State; on page 88 dealing with power supply needs the following is inserted: “if Goa focuses on promotion of industrialization such as food parks, SEZs, cold storage chains, infrastructure development etc, demand for power for overall development will be high power intensive and it may touch 1500 MW”
31. In the Eco-Sensitive Zones ESZ-I includes “land that need to be regenerated: these includes all inactive/closed/dormant mines and mining wastelands and dumps.” Now what guarantee is there considering demand from China that these mines are no going to be activated again with the permission of course from the Ministry of Environment and Forest as provided for in this report itself?
Perhaps it is better idea now to begin work on Goa Freedom Plan 2061.
Monday, May 26, 2008
5th June 2008 at 10.00 am in Colamb, Sanguem, Goa.
The State of Goa known for its peaceful people and scenic beauty is terrorized by mining companies. Mining companies have captured Adivasi Peoples’ Homelands. Let’s protest and condemn all this.
People of Goa Awake!
Citizens march forward!
To warn Goa Government!
To create history!
Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED), Panaji-Goa.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Villagers claims that around 15 years back the depth of the dam was around 6 mts and presently the depth of the dam is not even half a meter as silt from the water can be seen by standing on the dam. That due to siltation if one had a dip into the water the water immediately turns muddy. On Sunday May 18, 2008 when visited the site a hordes of children and elderly people were seen bathing into the dam and every time they had a dip the water used to turn muddy.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Sources informed that Dempo Mining corporation is having a mining lease being lease No.TC No.87/52 which lease was expired way back in 1990. As recently there is a great demand for ore the mining company with the help of a contractor planned to transport ore which was termed at rejection about 20 years back. Presently without the permission from the Directorate of mines, Indian beareu of Mines, Ministry of environment and forest the mining company planned to transport the ore (reject) and with a motive to start and transport the rejection from the leased portion and to keep the villagers at bay.
The contractor namely Gangesh Molu Dessai whose father is the treasurer of Goa Pradesh Congress committee file a case against five villagers before the civil court Margao and by manipulating facts even managed to get ex-parte injunction on 25/4/2008. That based on the ex-parte injunction on 17/5/08 the said contractor managed to get police protection.
The villagers further informed herald that though the case has been filed against five people the Cuncolim police served police protection notice to 40 villagers.
That meanwhile the villagers of Nuvem are apprehensive about all the movement done by the mining company and the contractor to start and transport the minerals .
It seems that the Dy-Collector of Quepem and the Agriculture Department Quepem inspected the site and stated in their report that the proposed mining activity is illegal and it will affect the agriculture existing therein.
That Wednesday May 21 2008 morning at around 9.00 AM the contractor Gangesh Molu Dessai, landed at the site with around 40 police personal from Cuncolim, Margao, Maina Curtorim, Colva, IRB who were headed by Cuncolim P.I. Sidhant Shirodkar and Colva P.I. Edwin Colaco. The Canacona Execuitive Magistrate Shri Valvoikar made his presence over there. The police started clearing the obstruction which was there on the way leading to the mine.
Getting the news large number of villagers gathered over their. However anticipating arrest the villagers did not halt the illegal activity. Meanwhile three jeeps from the Directorate of mine landed at the site. The Senior Technical Assistants, Directorate of mines and Geology Shri Hector Fernandes served a notice on the contractor , the police and the village. The notice states as under:
“Mining/winning of Minerals or lifting of Minerals from the said Ex-Mining lease is prohibited without the sanction from the government. Any person who is found engaged in the above activity within the Ex-mining lease in contravention of the provisions of section 4 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act 1957 is liable for prosecution.”
That at around 10.30 AM Quepem MLA Shri Chandrakant Kavlekar in whose constituency Nuvem comes as per new constituency delimitation come at the scene. He told police that no mining activity which is against the wishes of the villagers should be carried out in the village. However the police were stationed at the site till 4.00 PM
Carlet Pereira who witnessed the entire incident questioned as to how can the police themselves clear the road that too from the private property based on the police protection . Are the policeman employee of the mining company?
Meanwhile the villagers of Nuvem are firm and united in opposing any mining activity in the area.
Women Power has been mainstay of the Advalpal agitation, State will have to respond to their demand soon against pressures of the mining barons.
Nothing now stops Advalpal villagers from marching further; plenty of anger displayed today outside the Deputy collector's office.
Police force is deployed to guard Deputy Collector's office in Bicholim. Deputy Collector is dilly-dallying to prepare factual report that none of the three mines have fulfilled conditions in their Environmental clearances provided by Central Ministry of Environment and Forest. Time will tell as to how long this will go on.
Women left their houses and are squatting in front of the deputy collector's office.
Just before going into delegation to meet Deputy Collector Arvind Bugade today afternoon to submit memorandum on Advalpal mining issue.
Women participated with their children too; with early exposure of the agitations the future of these children are shaped in the movement.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
According to the reports reaching here at 6.10 pm confrontation is on between Sesa Goa mining company an the Adval villagers. Around 150 villagers have squatted on the road blocking mining trucks carrying ore from Sesa Goa mines. Tension was mounting on on the mine side with no side in a position to relent. Vedanta - that owns Sesa Goa - is known for thorough environmental destruction as well as application of brutal repressive measures in number of Indian States.
Sesa Goa mine owned by British corporate Vedanta was involved in beating up of three Advalpal villagers two of them being women. Sheetal Thanekar, Surekha Santosh Gaonkar and 17 year old Sandesh Vithal Gaonkar was beaten by Sesa Goa goons at around 3.00 pm today on the mines site in the presence of Goa Police personnel attached to Bicholim police station. Bicholim police station has registered the case against unknown persons at the demand of Advalpal villagers after initial reluctance.
Today morning Advalpal villagers marched into Sesa Goa mines and forced it to close down. Then the group marched on the Fometos mine. However today too police were deployed to provide security cover thereby preventing people from entering mine. While people were at the Fomentos mine Sesa Goa mine too were provided with police protection and re-started again.
One group today morning squatted before the deputy collectors office shouting slogans against mining company and deputy Collector accusing officer Arvind Bugde being agent of the mining companies. police too rushed here and put in place barricade preventing people from entering the deputy collector's office.
The third mine operated by Salgaoncar mining company remains close for the past three days. Goa's Mining Minister who is also Chief Minister - Digambar Kamat - will have to take some important and hard decisions to resolve this stand off. Neither application Goons nor Police violence is going to solve this problem. He has to straighten his backbone and sent home mining companies to defend homes and lives of Advalpal people. Earlier he does it better for him and his government stability.
Sebastian Rodrigues with inputs from Ramesh Gauns in Bicholim and Shamsunder Naik in Advalpal.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Two jeeps load of policemen are posted in hot Sun to protect Advalpal Fomento mines from the angry villagers. Police force that is paid out of public funds have turned again against public. It had earlier done so few months back to defend the same Fomento mines in Sanguem taluka's Colamb village.
Today morning group of around 200 villagers force stopped two operating mines. First was that of Sesa Goa and then immidiately of Salgaoncars. Deputy collector's office in Bicholim has been another site of hectic activity as one group of Advalpal villagers are squatting in front of the office demanding that Deputy collector show them approved mining plan from Indian beareu of mines (IBM). Deputy collector however was in no position to show agitators any documents. In the absence of approved plans area of lease remains disputable.
The agitation is set to intensify even further as the State has been behaving in absolutely insensitive manner arresting villagers as well as their MLA Rajesh Patnekar.
Sebastian Rodrigues with inputs from Ramesh Gauns in Bicholim
Monday, May 19, 2008
Around 600 villagers marched on the mines leased out to Litho Ferro, Sesa Goa, and Salgaoncar mining companies this morning. At around 4 pm two villagers were arrested while on a delegation to deputy collector’s office in Bicholim. Shamsunder Naik and Kashinath Gad were whisked away by police officials attached to Bicholim police station.
As a quick reaction to the above arrests, around 500 people descended at the Bicholim Police station in two vans offering their arrests too. Police were in the process of completing formalities of arrests when the report last came in at 6.45pm.
Section 151 of CrPC was applied to register cases against over 100 Advalpal protestors today.
Large number of women is also a part of the 500 strong group that has gone to court arrest at Bicholim police station, in fact one van is full of women and the other of men.
Reports received at 8 pm discloses that Fomento mining company had filed police cases against following 12 Advalpal villagers Shyamsunder Naik, Sharmila Naik, Kishore Naik, Kashinath Gad, Vijay Pundloskar, Ganesh Naik, Babi Gaonkar, Suresh Gad, Shrikant Gaonkar, Manguesh Gad, Amar Shetye and Pradip Gaonkar. The cases were registered under following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): 143, 144, 147, 148, 323, 427, 341, 506 and 149.
Out of these 4 people were arrested namely, Shyamsunder Naik, Sharmila Naik, Kishore Naik and Kashinath Gad. The process of releasing them on bail was on when the last reports came in.
Fomentos are operating Litho Ferro mining lease in Advalpal and has one of the worst records in applying State police force and entire machinery to silence people's protests. The best examples of these are Colamb in Sanguem and Pissurlem in Sattari talukas.
While all these protests are raging throughout the state of Goa, Government continues continues to be active collaborator of Goa's mining plunder and loot.
Sebastian Rodrigues with input from Shyamsunder Naik in Police custody at Bicholim Police Station, Bicholim, Goa.
In the past few weeks, momentum has been building up against opencast mining companies – many of them operated by mafia groups like Trimurthy. Fomentos - that is well known for Goa’s environmental destruction and snatching away people's livelihoods and drying up natural water sources - too is also contributing its bit to wipe off Advalpal village in Bicholim from Goa’s map. There is an ongoing agitation against Fomentos in Sanguem taluka’s Colamb village. Its mines have been forced to shut down by People’s power since January 2008.
Today’s march on mines included Members of Panchayats as well as Local MLA Mr. Patnekar.
According to Ramesh Gauns most of these mines are illegally operating purely by muscle power. Department of Mines and Geology is involved in protecting these illegal mines even though none of them posses approved mining plans.
It is indeed tragedy of Goa that this government department has stooped down so low to be mere slave agency of the miners. It is high time that the department gets its acts together and rises up to defend people and not mining companies.
According to reports pouring in at 1.00 pm Police are preparing to arrest Advalpal villagers on march.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Mining in South Goa's adivasi hinterlands belt is creating not just all round problems to the adivasi communities but is threatening to engulf entire Southern past of Goa. John Fernandes writes on water scarcity that is soon to hound Goa if mines - that operate inside Salaulim Water dam reservoir catchment areas - are not stopped immediately.
South Goa now a day is heading towards water problem. That most of the natural water resources are getting dried up and water needs of the people are to be satisfied by supplying water through tanker. In the years to come that may be after 5 to 10 years the problem will be aggravated and which will a main problem. This will surely happen if no
immediate measures are taken by the administration at this juncture.
That the main source of water supply to entire south Goa is from the Salaulim dam which falls in Sanguem taluka. If any problem arises to the pipeline entire south Goa runs dry particularly in Salcete, as in Salcete most of the natural resources of water have been destroyed and some are on the verge of destruction. The water of which is not suitable for consumption.
That presently in the catchments areas of Salaulim dam, there are a dozens of illegal mining’s are operation. Some of the mines even directly dump the mining rejection in the Salaulim water bodies. The way the mining is going on in the catchment area’s of Salaulim Dam that after about 5 to 10 years that due to siltation the water storing capacity of the dam will drastically reduce. Secondly due to reckless mining in the Catchment area of Sanguem and Quepem the fresh water storing bodies like the hillocks, mountains , plateau which are supplying water to the Rivers, springs, Nallas or to the Salaulim dam are drastically getting destroyed .
That in the years to come demand for fresh water will increase may hold on the other hand, as mentioned above the water storing bodies will reduce , which ultimately result in imbalance and crises.
That even today some parts of Salcete , Quepem, Sanguem are facing water problem. That as water supply is met through the Salaulim water pipeline most of the big hotels, Industries etc. functioning in Salcete area’s have dug bore well, even the PWD (Public Works Department) tankers which supply water to Salcete is from the bore well which mean million liters of fresh water is pumped everyday. This will ultimately in the years to come results in imbalance in the ground water of Salcete. Ones there is imbalance of ground water in Salcete which will lead to entering the saline water (sea water) into the ground which will further aggravate the water problem.
South Goa in order to solve its water problem in the near future is to have strict vigil on the reckless mining. Otherwise Goa will face water problem.
'All Gram Sabha members present proposed that regarding construction of TXM3 Plant; decided to appeal in Director of Panchayats against the orders of Deputy Director of Panchayat. If Director passed same order then appeal in High Court. There is a Gram Sabha resolution passed against the expansion of TMX3 dated 17/02/2008 yet Deputy director of Panchayat has passed order against the Gram Sabha to issue construction licence to Syngenta. This act of Deputy Director of Panchayat is in contradiction of Constitution of India that empowered public.
Decision of Deputy Director of Panchayat is against the interest of the Constitutional provisions. Therefore Gram Sabha opposed the order unanimously resolved.'
Syngenta's expansion proposal have been facing stiff opposition from various sections of Society in Goa on number of grounds. Public Hearing held on February 29, 2008 too turned hostile for the Swiss Corporate. Syngenta have been operating in Goa for the past 37 years after they were handed over adivasi lands at the cost of 25 paise per square meter. You may wish to look at the Syngenta sale deed here.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The road block against the mining trucks started in Colamba on the 2nd of May and still continued till 7th of May 2008. None of the mining trucks - overloaded or otherwise was to cross the village due to this blockade. While the agitation continues on one hand there are a number of incidents that unfolded in the village of Colamba since then.
After Sucorina Dias was kicked by Shekhar Naik on the first day of the blockade, a police complaint was filed on the 2nd May, against him on two accounts, firstly for kicking her and secondly for slapping Motesh Antao.
Following this incident the contractors called for a meeting on the 4th of May with the people of Colamba to negotiate and stop the blockade. There were four contractors and fifty three villagers present for the meeting. The people put forward their demands very clearly which were: to reduce the overloading of the trucks, to stop the rash driving, to stop the transport between 12:30 to 2:00pm everyday and to widen and repair the roads from Zambalim to Netravalim.
The bargaining continued with the contractors for a long time but no concrete decisions were taken. After the contractors left, at 10:30am the people of Colamba took a resolution stating that “until the road is repaired from Zambalium to Netravalim the villagers will not allow the transporter to carry the iron ore from the mines to Sanvordem”.
The final nail in the week long full of activities was when Sucorina was offered money by one of the contractors present in the meeting. This incident took place on the 5th of May in the morning. Bribe was given in order to force her to take back the complaint she had filed on the 2nd of May against Shekhar Naik, the bus driver. There was a long argument between them in which she refused to accept the money and forced him out of her house.
As the people of Colamba continue their struggle, the question that arises is: till how long will this continue? How many such weeks of struggle will be needed before the sleeping government rises and takes any action against this terrorism of mining?
This is a village crematorium ground being dug for mining purpose by Sesa Goa mining company.
Village women and children are psychologically prepared for the oncoming battle with mining companies. The possibility of direct combat is so real in Advalpal.
Sesa Goa lets pumped water from its mining pit into the people's agricultural fields flooding the the yet-to-be-harvested paddy causing damage to agriculture.
Cashew plantations have suffered enormously due to opencast iron ore mining on Advalpal-Sirigao region. This women is witness to the mockery of Advalpal by mining companies.
Young and Old are together in the Advalpal mining battlefield. These mines were closed down in the decade of 1960s when explosion on mines led to death of four women workers.
In order to understand the Forest Rights Act better, to create awareness among the people and cater to the present day problems of the people the following was discussed: Kumeri Cultivation, encroachment issue (forest land), land leases, collection of Minor forest produce, declaration of community forests, disputed lands, preparation of ST certificates, forest related developmental issues.
Besides these the procedures of claiming for rights and the steps for drafting these claims was also discussed in details. There was an active participation from the members present for the seminar.
The outcome of this seminar was that six out of the thirty members present volunteered to form a committee to study the Forest Rights Act and to understand the present status of the act in Goa. In order to create awareness about the Act two villages in Quepem and Canacona talukas, were chosen.
Meet was organized by Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED).
With instruments like PESA, Panchayati Raj Act and the Forest Rights Act which place the rights in the hands of the people, we may hope to see a transformation of all those oppressed in Goa.
People who participated in the day long program includes Dr. Bikram Dasgupta, Durgadas Gaonkar, Babal Gawde, Rama Velip, Deepak Karmalkar, Ulhas Gaonkar, Vinaya D’souza, Manguesh Goankar, Rajanikant Velip, Anand Velip, Advocate John Fernandes, Milagrine Antao, Palmira Dias, Socorine Dias, Espu Fernandes, Egyps D’Souza, Soiru Sawant, Arjun Velip, Purso Gaonkar, Sitaram Velip, Babuso Goankar, Sebastian Rodrigues, Mercelina Sen, Smitha Oliveira, Constancio Rodrigues, Premdas Velip and Others.
On an unusual day in the history of movement around mining in Goa People coming from various parts of Goa to support Advapal villagers struggle. The meeting served the purpose of providing a platform for the speakers to share their expertise in different places in Goa. The speakers of the day were Claude Alvares, Rama Velip, Ramesh Gauns, Shamsunder Naik, Durgadas Gaonkar, Nilesh Sawal and Rajesh Patnekar, a local MLA.
It was an awakening experience for the villagers as they listened to the speakers on their study on mining with their vast experience and knowledge regarding the issue. The speakers covered a brief history on evolution of mining in Goa and also narrated the examples of villages of becoming victims in the bargain.
The main arguments highlighted the impact of mining on forest, agriculture, water and health. It also made people to realize how it is affecting their livelihood since they are dependent on the above areas. They also brought to the notice of the villagers the consequences like unemployment since the local people are not employed in the mining companies. Due to the pollution created by mining affects the health of people like TB, Cancer etc. The rash driving by the truck drivers puts people in danger as they walk on narrow footpaths. People’s houses are getting cracked.
The speakers made people aware due to mining the springs are drying leading to scarcity of water. As a result people from the villages have to purchase drinking water from outside. And mining also destroys the crop due to scarcity of water and soil erosion. Some of the speakers challenged the villagers by raising the fact on how villagers are cheated by the mining companies. The speakers convinced the villagers, it is high time to protect the land of Goa like a mother protects her child. They urged the people to be together to fight on this issue.
The speakers emphasized the point the development of any kind cannot be at the cost of people’s welfare. To counteract these development policies a need was reiterated, the people of Goa unite on the issue. Thus we can openly say “People of the Goa unite, we have nothing to lose except for our misery”
Friday, May 2, 2008
Milagrina Antao with other women are questioning pathetic law and order situation in their village. "How much more do we have to struggle to make Goa government listen?"
Motesh Antao is one of the fearless fighters of Colamb. Today he was targeted by Sanvordem Goons.