Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maina, Quepem under mining threats

These are the hills in Maina, Quepem that borders between Quepem and Canacona (Cotigao Wild Life Sanctuary) and are threatened by twin mining leases of Shantilal K. & Brothers Ltd - Zolaracho Dongor leases numbers 44/51 with the area of 61.354 hectares of land covering survey numbers 24, 25, 27 to 32, 39, 40, 64. This mine is already in operation even though its Public Hearing was held only on 21st June 2008. Salgaoncars and Joaquim Alemao, Cuncolim MLA is involved in disappearing of these forests.

The Second mining lease no is T.C. No. 09/53 covering survey numbers 23, 24, 40-45, and 51, Lease of Shantilal K. & Brothers Ltd. named MatnePan - e- Satarkaranchi iron Ore mine (23 hectares) that is in geographic continuity to the first one thus extending area under mining to nearly 85 hectares of land mostly verdant Western Ghats Forests that is sought to be slaughtered for the purpose of exports to China and to provide raw material to global Steel Industry leaving Goa devastated forever. Here are the on the spot pictures of this magnificent Maina. We all need to unite to save it from terror of the mining companies at all costs.

Deforestation to promote mining has just begun.
This year these fields are still uncultivated: reason farmers are compensated and told by the mining companies to discontinue agriculture.

Traditional temples are to go under mining activities and the new temples that are constructed are too in the mining lease!

These magnificent forest are under mining threats

These western ghats forests are responsible for large supply of water to the People, industry and Tourism in Goa. These mountains are our water reservoirs and mining mining companies wants to turn them into craters of moon as they have done in Goa's villages of Mayem and Pissurlem in North Goa.

These houses of Maina People are going to be demolished to begin mining there

These are lush green Forests that are a target of the mining companies

Trees are cut down already, even before the Environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Delhi! its called jungle law by Sanvordem MLA Anil Salgaonacar- Cuncolim MLA Joaquim Alemao nexus.
And destruction of Forest continues....

And more....

Roads in Forest are build at the will of the mining terror

This is where drilling was carried on to test the grade of ore. These mountains has high grade of iron Ore.

And More drilling here as the road leads us there...

Close up of drilling operations....

Another close up...

All roads to mining drilling sites...

View from under the drilling is the limit to the lust of the mining companies.

Mining machinery everywhere, ready to pierce the earth at any moment

Symbol of things to come: Green to turn red at stroke of the bulldozers' sirens to earn foreign exchange and loose Goa forever and ever...

One more drilling machine, Maina Forest is full of drilling points.

All these is going on right in front of the officials from the Forest department. Department prefers to wait and watch till all the Forest of Goa is ravaged by the mining companies.

This huge tree is cut and lying on the banks of Corca river. This shows things to happen to the Forest and People here.
This is a flowing Corca river, a tributary of Kushavati river that ultimately joins Zuari river to connect with Arabian Sea.
Perhaps this is a last sugarcane plantation here before mining catastrophe strikes here in Maina, Quepem.
Diversity of machines at work in the forest...

Mining has already started changing colours, forest water is getting colours of silt here...
Forest here is full of perennial fresh water bodies, they will all dry up as mining invasion sets in Maina, Quepem Forests.
Another fresh water body; you can actually smell sulfur here!
Goverment invested 2 crores to put in place irrigation network like this. However with mining disruption on anvin: government schemes are directionless...It is undoing its earlier schemes

This is a drinking water supply suppored by governement investments...soon water in this will turn mining red
The mining leases has some beautiful green mountains habitat for numerous wildlife such as bisons and Hornbill besides diversity of medicinal plants...

Water gets channelized to the Corca river from springs in dense forest of Maina and Cavrem...
Sebastian Rodrigues

Public hearing to renew mining leases a farce

By John Fernandes

The Public hearing held by the Goa Pollution control board recently on the Rapid Environment Assessment and Management plan report to renew the mining leases of the mining companies in Quepem talua is a farce, as even before the public hearing could be held or even before the mining could be renewed the mining companies have already commenced their work and extensive damage to the environment has already been done.

Recently the Goa Pollution control board held four public hearing for the renewal of mining leases of four mining companies from Quepem taluka which includes Devapan Dongor Iron and Maganese ore mine of Shri Shaik Salim under T.C. No.01/1951 public hearing of which was held on 28/4/2008 , Pante Pan iron ore mine under T.C.No.9/53 , Ubea Fatracho Dongor Iron Ore Mine of Tisa Moraes under T.C.No.1/57 public hearing was held on 21/6/2008 while Zoleracho Dongor Iron ore mine of M/S. Shantilal K. and Brother under T.C.No. 44/51 public hearing of which was fixed on 21/6/2008 could not be held on that day due to technical ground .

That out of the four public hearing held for the renewal of mining leases excavation , other forest cutting and other work of Devapan Dongor Iron and Maganese ore mine, Pante Pan iron ore mine and Zoleracho Dongor Iron ore mine has already began long back and extensive damage has been done to the environment.

The Zoleracho Dongon Iron ore mine which comes under maina village is learnt to be operated by son in law of one of the top minister of Goa. The public hearing for the said mine could not be held on 21/6/2008 however the mine owner managed to operate the mine illegally and that to in a full swing since March 2008 . Large scale iron ore has been transported and might have reached to China. The Goa Pollution control board nor Directorate of mines and Geology have not teeth to take action though complaints have been filed by the locals. When this writer recently visited the site large excavating machinery were seen moving on the mine and extensive full grown trees were seen buried under the debris.

With regard to the Devapan dongor Iron ore mine which fall within the Jurisdiction of Cavrem village and which is on the top of Cavrem hillock have undertaken extensive excavation to make road and even dug pit. However due to strong objection from the villagers the mine owner could not continue the work further on side of the mountain but on the other side that to in the forest land the mine is in full swing operation informed the villagers.

With regard to the Pante Pan iron ore mine which seems to be operated by a Minister from salcete work of which has been recently started. To facilitate drilling and to make road to take the machinery in large number of natural grown bushes and forest trees have been cut or have been bulldozed and buried into the soil. When this correspondent visited the site recently at two places drilling work was going on and a number of roads were illegally made into the forest.
The Forest official were also seen drawing a panchanama of the illegal cutting of trees from survey No.43 of maina village based on a complaint lodged by one Cheryl D’Souza who is owning a big farm just adjacent to the mining lease area. As said Cheryl lodge the complaint the JCB machine which was used for excavation was in the leased portion was seen parked in front of one of the house.

If the mining owners are so firm that their mining lease will be renewed by the Ministry of Forest inspite there being stiff opposition from the locals on genuine ground, the conducting of public hearing a farce or not.

Sarvona Zantye Mining:Third Party Intervention granted

by Ramesh Gauns

Sarvona Mine in Bicholim, which has remained in the publicity for various controversies such as People's agitations, postponements of Public Hearings etc. has yet again received set back in the Court of Administrative Tribunal.

The company had filed an appeal before the Court of Administrative Tribunal, Panaji via appeal no. 2/2008 on Feb. 2008 making the Goa pollution Control Board the respondent. The appeal was to ask for consent to operate and consent to establish under Air (Control and Prevention of Pollution) Act 1981 and Water (Control and Prevention of pollution) Act 1974 respectively.

The environment clearance obtained by M/s Zantye & Co. Pvt. Ltd on August 21. 2007, from the Ministry of Environment' s Appellate Authority, New Delhi vide Appeal no. 11/2007. The Appeal reads as Ramesh S. Gauns V/s Ministry of Environment & Forest, New Delhi as Respondent no. 1, M/s Zantye & Co. Pvt. Ltd as Respondent no. 2, The Goa State Pollution Control Board as Respondent no. 3 and Chief Secretary, Govt. of Goa as Respondent no. 4.

The Respondent no.1 was not attending the hearings hence notice stating that the matter will be decided and disposed Ex-parte. The notice stating that the matter will be decided and disposed Ex-parte. The notice was in the name of Secretary, MOEF, New Delhi on 11th March 2008. Respondent no 2 meanwhile filed an appeal on 08.02.2008 via Appeal no. 2/2008 in the Court of Administrative Tribunal at Panjim against the Goa State Pollution Control Board for not issuing required consent by virtue of which mine can get under operations. The matter was to come on 03.04.2008. Having learnt the developments and desperate attempts to get the mining operational, an application was moved by me in the Court of Administrative Tribunal at Panaji for a third party intervention. the matter was kept for argument on third party intervention and argued on two occasions wherein the advocate from M/s Zantye & Co. Pvt Ltd cited Supreme Court Order to check my intervention. The matter was pleaded by me.

Finally on June 26th 2008, the Court of Administrative Tribunal at Panaji allowed my third party intervention as Respondent no.2 in the said appeal. The matter is kept for final argument on 18th July 2008 where as the Appeal before National Environmental Appellate Authority, New Delhi is to come on for hearing on 11th of July where in my lawyer advocate Ritwick Dutta, Delhi based Lawyer is representing on my behalf.

Sarvona mine TC/ML28/53 of M/s Zantye & Co. Pvt. Ltd having area of 72.00 hectares. With Natural Flora and Fauna, located exactly on the banks of perennial fresh water body - Bicholim River which is notorious for its flood havoc in the monsoon season.

The said mining project has been receiving severe blockades since 18th January 2007, the day on which the first Public hearing was postponed on technical grounds and simultaneously launching of strong process from the local residents in the vicinity of the mining lease.

This is the only mining project probably in the history of mining in Goa, which is stalled for such a long time even after company obtaining the Environmental Clearance from Ministry of Environment & Forest, New Delhi.

In spite of bringing out various flaws and violations from the project proponent at various levels including the "Deed of Lease" to the EC order which were placed before the Governor, Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary, the Department of Mines and Geology, Pollution Control Board, none of these bothered to take lawful actions against M/s Zantye & Co. Pvt. Ltd and the mining project. Whatever legal actions the state Govt. was supposed to take to ensure justice in the matter, is being tried through the courts. Once again proving that State is no way - though sad to state - interested in giving justice to the people against the mining lobby which is root cause of people's agony and sufferings imposed by destruction of traditional occupations, water bodies and Health.

Statement of Rama Velip at Quepem Police Station

Quepem Police Station
Date:- 24/06/2008


I Shri. Rama s/o Ladu Velip Age - 44 years, occupation - Agriculturist r/o H.No. 36, Colomba, Rivona, Goa do hereby state as under:

I am as above and residing at the above mentioned address. That I am a agriculturist by profession and doing agricultural work at Colomba.

I say that I know one Sebastiao Rodrigues r/o Siolim Mapusa Since last 05 years from the year 2003. The said Sebastiao Rodrigues use to visit our home at Colomba alongwith br. Philip of Don Bosco, Sulcorna and Venkatesh Prabhu Dessai of Colomba - Kevona. The said Sebastiao use to move along with brother Philip Neri D'Souza.

I say that whenever there was a meeting in our village regarding mining issue and other environmental or land issue he use to visit our village. Most of the time said Venkatesh Prabhu Dessai and also Br. Philip use to attend the said meeting of "GAKUVED" and use to take photographs and was doing videography also. Mostly he use to do work on the Internet.

I further state that the Br. Philip Neri D'Souza is not working in Don Bosco farm Sulcorna as he was transferred to an other place. So also Venkatesh Prabhu Dessai is not also in contact with me for the last 06 months or so and he is not attending our meetings now.

Hence my Statement.

My Statement is recorded in English, read over and explained to me and found correctly recorded as per my say.

Rama Velip

Before me
(Santosh S. Dessai)
PI, Quepem Police Station

This Statement was recorded after issuing Call letter to Rama Velip in view of the allegations of naxalite infiltration in Colamb was leveled by the Leader of the Opposition, Goa Legislative Assembly on June 19, 2008.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Quepem by the kilo

By Hartman de Souza

This morning, as you read this, I ask you to mourn the rape and murder of half a dozen steep, thickly forested hills barely 12 kilometres from Quepem town. These form an integral link of the magnificent Western Ghats that surround Goa, and as any schoolchild studying the environment will tell you, they play a crucial role in providing Goa its ecological wellbeing.

And yet, in blatant contravention of wisdom we purport to impart to children, hundreds of forests are being cut down around Quepem even as I write this. The denuded land turned inside out so fast, a hill can disappear in three months, leaving behind suppurating wounds that go down so deep the giant tipper trucks at the bottom look like the harmless toys little boys plays with.

It is nothing short of criminal if one considers the wealth of the bio-diversity wantonly destroyed and the refugees thrown up. Spotted leopard, wild boar, bison as big as three-ton trucks, otters and mongoose, male hare as big as village dogs, wild boar, magnificent hornbills, birds of so many shapes and sizes the venerable Salim Ali would smile for a full month, precious flora and fauna that fill up a whole volume. This does not include the human life that has prospered in the midst of this pristine environment. The communities within this area, landless agricultural workers and smallholders, who have tended terraced fields yielding two crops a year for a good century at least and nurtured thick orchards of traditionally grown fruit trees. Nor the hundreds of mountain springs, streams, and ponds that are filled with water throughout the year.

From where I write this, all that remains are the graves, if, that is, one can refer to these grim pictures of death and devastation as ‘graves’ at all. In recent Goan memory will be images of a young, beautiful, vivacious girl with her smile frozen in time, raped and murdered just like the hills here, for no conceivable reason other than greed and avarice. One would need to have a fifteen year old girl in every single village and hamlet in Goa, all raped and murdered at the exact same moment. Perhaps only then, would one comprehend the enormity of the crime committed in Quepem, even as this is being written.

There has been no ceremony for their passing, and one doubts, given the callousness and skulduggery of our political elite, that there will ever be. They died in anonymity, uselessly, senselessly butchered for petty gain.

To reach here one needs to travel far. One leaves Quepem Town on the road towards Bali, where, at Ambaulim itself the first signs of mining greed surface.

In barely two weeks, armed with outdated mining leases issued by the erstwhile Portuguese regime, a new site has been opened in flagrant violation of our own laws protecting the environment. It is these outdated mining leases issued by the Portuguese that a new crop of miners wave in their hands, No one seems to be asking how Goans, in many cases those elected to office by the people with the promise that they would work for Goa’s wellbeing, can wantonly desecrate the environment like the Portuguese did. As Ambaulim plateaus into the embrace of the hills, nearby are the scars left behind from the mining of laterite blocks, although these are friendly compared to what the miners will do with their mechanical shovels.

This road from Ambaulim heading south easterly will eventually end at Neturlem where it falls in obeisance to the imposing Mother Ghats at our borders, home to the majestic Kushawati River that, thanks to the illegal mining, may soon be no more. At Neturlem itself armed with the same outdated colonial leases, rogue miners were finally stopped by laws governing respect for the environment. There at least, for the moment the Kushawati continues to be blessed, her waters protected from the arsenic the mining industry uses to process for ‘purity’ of ore, and, as investigations reveal have already created havoc in the mid-stream waters of the Zuari and Mandovi.

Downstream the news is anything but good. At Sulcorna, is the Don Bosco complex, where the Salesians have steadfastly protected her for the thirty-five years. They operate a prosperous agricultural enterprise that subsidises their other socially useful activities…a school, industrial training centres, and, from this year, a diploma training in agriculture. What few know is that for the last ten years if not more, the Salesians have been waging a lonely war to keep patently illegal mining operations from claiming their land as its own!

At the Don Bosco complex, the Kushawati is close to the prettiest picture she can give us of herself. Downstream further, where she meets her younger sibling, the Corca, she proceeds to Rivona. At Collomb, residents like Rama Velip and his associates, now backed by several other groups are deeply concerned about Goa’s environmental destruction. They have moved the courts and governmental agencies to prevent short-sighted business interests from killing the Kushawati with the dregs thrown up by mining and desperately need public support.

The Kushawati’s younger sister, the Corca, fares even worse. If public awareness does not come to the rescue and laws governing the environment are not brought to bear, she will be non-existent in barely a year. As Rama Velip and his associates point out, the Corca is surrounded by thickly forested hills with hundreds of year-long springs that provide her the sweetness of her water. A patently absurd mining lease, colonial to boot, now determines that we can murder her.

Adjacent to the Corca are two villages, Kawrem and Maina, home to hills with thousands of trees, springs, streams and ponds that have provided fresh water for a few centuries at least, and are teeming with rich wildlife that have borne witness to this magnificence of green cover.

At root in this crisis, is a pettiness of profit motive so crass, it defies description. The real tragedy is that there are Goans capable of turning whole hills inside out to extract, by whatever means, land and all life that goes with it, at 2500 – 4000$ per metric ton.

The forest and foothills around Quepem currently being razed for ore are to be exported to China. They have never been accessible easily and this is exactly why mining interests in the area have got away with environmental murder. It is as if succeeding governments and industry, knowing full well the mineral potential of the area, deliberately kept aid and development at a level just good enough to get by before they got down to the nitty-gritty of exploiting it for what it was worth.

Given the magnificent strides made by Karnataka and Kerala to develop bio-diversity reserves as commercial propositions, With the right kind of people at the helm, not Goans just fuelled by lust, could make this an internationally acclaimed ecologically-inspired destination. Instead what we are left with are these poor mockeries of graves, bright to deep orange depending on the time of day, and too easily reminiscent of open wounds.

If those responsible for these environmental atrocities taking place really cared for the area, there could be many options to improvement. One does not have to be overly imaginative to have the hearts of people in mind. For instance – a state of the art agricultural college with forty per cent of the seats reserved for Goans and the rest offered nationally and internationally. Perhaps a nursing school run on the same lines but attached to a state of the art health care facility; the upgrading of the already excellent primary health care facilities in the area; a school for dairy management and science, maybe even a good veterinary college; an institute to strengthen the management of village cooperatives. All these can come up without stripping the earth of her clothes and requiring nothing more than the genuineness of our elected representatives.

However, even as this is being written, a government school in the area is under threat. Barely 500 metres in the line of the giant excavators, the school is being bought with grandiose promises and the children are being gifted new school bags, umbrellas, water bottles and pencils and pens. Rumour has it that the school will be relocated.

But then such absurdities are commonplace: Mining leases cover temples that the mining companies renovate and rebuild to show the residents their concern: however archaeologically protected sites are in danger of being razed with no concern from the companies. The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Plan Reports submitted by the mining contractors to show compliance with stringent Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) norms are prepared by an organization in Hyderabad, and would be laughable if not for the sheer deceit involved.

A good two months after they have raped a hill, one of the mining companies is now hurriedly planting a decorative row of Australian acacia at its entrance. Nearby at least ten springs have been destroyed. Activists in the area expect their RTI investigations on this to unearth a can of very smelly worms indeed and inside, as the papers will show, is a company involving elected representatives. It is patently obvious that palms have been greased all the way down the line. The reports pledging compliance with norms appear callously fabricated by assessment panels in the employ of mining interests.


While this is being written, the Don Bosco complex at Sulcorna battles on, pleading with the law to overturn the legitimacy of colonial leases drafted to export as much of Goa’s land as is mechanically possible. At Collomb where the mines have been sullying the Kushawati’s waters the past few years, residents have shown the same spirit of battle. The local authorities have been pressured and complaints registered, and there is breathing space till the rains last. What will transpire come September when more money gets circulated and the law, circumvented, is anyone’s guess.

This is a battle that begs for public outrage and outcry immediately and those interested in joining forces can do no better than visit to be updated on blatant violations of the law even as they happen. At work behind the scenes are the Goans we can be truly proud of. Seby Rodrigues, a young man from Siolim working on his Ph.D on land issues and mining; Rama Velip from Collomb and his fellow committed residents; Joao Fernandes, a young lawyer from Quepem who brings his legal skills to bear; and Ramesh Gawas, this year’s National Award-winning teacher, who coordinates the group’s complaints to local authorities.

The lands most recently under threat are situated in Maina, where a few days earlier, trees were being illegally felled. Rama Velip and residents of the area alerted the forest authorities. As of writing this forestry range officers have photographed the area and are in the process of lodging an FIR and conducting a panchnama.

This land under threat is barely a hundred metres from the Corca, the sparkling younger sister of the Kushawati. Farms in the area, nurtured and developed with the active support of the forestry and agricultural departments, are ringed and bordered on their south side by a bend in the Corca, and across from this, thickly forested, protected land teeming with bio-diversity may well be non-existent in other parts of our state today.

On the south easterly side of these same properties is a mountain spring tapped by the Panchayat for the last decade at least. Its water is carried by a canal built at a cost of four crore rupees, to villages downstream throughout the year. There is no lack of concerned citizens in the area. A few years ago, with the active assistance of local, committed forestry officials, at least two residents put an end to illegal stone quarrying from the river and the poaching and killing of wild life. The mining will damage the spring irreparably, and wilfully murder groundwater resources.

Even as many in the area shed tears, the Goan mining barons in the area have their eyes set on a few other young families of hills, and come September, forests protected by law to be a wealth held for the future, will disappear. Those who bought this land to rape it, once hired machinery to the mining industry and would know just how rapidly a hill can be turned inside out. Forests that once took gangs of labourers a full month to clear can now be done in barely an hour, and Quepem’s earth sent to China by the kilo.


By Claude Alvares

The aam aadmi Government of Digambar Kamat is getting increasingly unhinged about protests against mining, as the events on World Environment Day – and the day earlier – disclose.
On 4th June, 2008, a busload of some 40 women and children (and some ten males) on its way from Advalpal near Assonora to Panaji was trailed by police vans up to Porvorim. The bus was carrying villagers who do not want the mines of Sesa Goa, Lithoferro (Timblos) and Anil Salgaoncar to operate any further in their village. They intended to carry out a peaceful satyagraha outside Sesa Ghor. Normally, the villagers would have gone by public bus. Considering that there were some old women and children in the group, the villagers decided to pool in money and recruit a private bus.

When they reached Porvorim they were in for a shock. Their bus was stopped at the Porvorim circle before the Secretariat and turned off into a side road. The driver was asked to dismount and taken to the Porvorim PS. Someone contacted me on my cell, so I rushed to the spot.
There was the Goa Armed Constabulary, petite girl police comically weighed down in Ninja turtle costumes and police inspectors everywhere. There was even an inspection of every vehicle going on at the entry to the Mandovi bridge and further down, there were further police reinforcements. I was told that at Sesa Ghor, which was going to be the focus of the Advalpal villagers’ visit, there was already heavy security – private and police.

I attempted to reason with the police officials at this unwarranted deprival of civil liberties. I called up the Home Secretary, Mr J.P. Singh, to complain. He said he would speak to the police. The bus was, however, emptied of its passengers and taken to Panjim PS. We then met Bosco George, SP, who repeated what other police officers had told us a few minutes earlier: their intelligence had indicated, they said, that people opposed to mining from south and north Goa would be descending that morning to block the Mandovi bridge!

And right enough, we were soon informed on our mobiles that police had descended on Colomba village in Rivona (south Goa) to ensure that villagers from there – opposing a mine run by the Timblos – would not leave the village. The villagers were surprised because except for deputing one or two people, they had simply no plans to join the Advalpal demo in front of Sesa Ghor.
After the activists submitted a written note to Bosco George – that this was a routine protest dharna before Sesa Ghor; that most of the group comprised women and children; that there were never any plans to block traffic – the bus was restored to the protesters and it was allowed to proceed further. The police, however, followed the bus to Sesa Ghor, and the women Ninja turtles lined up along the high fence guarding the building.

Sesa Goa is now owned by Anil Aggarwal of Vedanta fame, one of the richest metal merchants of the world. But here was the aam aadmi government of Diggu Kaka providing this amir aadmi with police and guns as if he were going to be physically assaulted. The gates to Sesa Ghor were pad-locked and the public was not allowed by the police to even send some of their representatives into the building to present a memorandum to Sesa that their mine was not wanted at Advalpal. The private security was actually redundant as the police did the job of gate-keepers. What a wonderful democracy!

Faithful to modern forms of Corporate Social Responsibility, Vedanta’s Sesa Goa hid behind the skirts of the women ninja constables. They did not think it appropriate to walk down and meet the agitators and understand their concerns. Mind you, this was no huge union march organized by Christopher Fonseca, but a small group of poorly nourished women and children and they had come to make a point. They were really incapable of throwing stones. They had no stones. But they had serious concerns: of survival, livelihood, health, their environment, their future. Sesa Goa, the Timblos and Anil Salgaonkar were guests in their village and guests should never trouble their hosts. In any case, guests should leave if they have overstayed their welcome.
But the police department of the aam aadmi administration was responding as if these protesters were a bunch of terrorists out of Al Qaeda.

Later, when the people decided to go to the Pollution Control Board nearby, the police insisted on sitting by while Advalpal residents explained their problems patiently to Dr L.U. Joshi, Chairman of the Goa Board.

This tradition of acting as keepers of the bold and the booty-ful was repeated the following day (June 5th) when the villagers of Colomba organized a simple two-hour World Environment Day function at Sulcorna in Sanguem. The armed constabulary was there again, with several police Sumos, and police force in buses plus assorted CID. The 80-odd people who attended the meeting from various parts of Goa were in splits! They had not even a demo planned and the Government had practically called in the army! So this is how the government of Digambar Kamat celebrates World Environment Day!

Ironically, the newspapers on June 6th reported that the Mineral Foundation of Goa had planting a sapling at Bicholim. One mining company alone, that of Dr Prafulla Hede, was officially granted permission to fell 2800 trees on Government forest land within one km of the Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides these, he went on to destroy another 1000 metres of forest adjoining his lease illegally, for which the forest department gave him a notice of closure. Other mining companies destroy dozens of hectares of forest every year, legally and illegally. So government was appreciative that the Mineral Foundation planted a sapling on World Environment Day.
On June 5th, Sesa Goa purchased advertising space in the TOI to announce “green mining”. We all know that whitewash has been replaced with “greenwash”.

But what connection do the police have with mining companies? As far as I can fathom, the police department is not responsible for the problems caused by mining. They do not get a share of the profits. They get none of the foreign exchange. They are dragged in only to act as an unwilling buffer between the victims of mining and the mining companies who are afraid of the people and their protests. For this thankless role of a tasteless sandwich, the police only receive everyone’s torrential abuse because their activities are seen as a needless harassment of the public and a violation of human rights. The mining companies that are the source of the problem never get into the picture.

The aam aadmi administration feels that by overwhelming protesting citizens with armed constabulary and strangely dressed policewomen, the protesters will be cowed down and retreat. No chance of that happening at all! But that such monumental repression of people’s environment concerns was allowed on World Environment Day itself serves to underline how environmentally insensitive and aam aadmi unfriendly the Digambar Kamat government has become.

Pubilished in Herald, Panjim
June 10, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fomentos determined to ruin Goan Village: Colamb

On June 12 2008 Fometo mining company release polluted water from the mine it operates: Hiralal Khodidas T.C. No. 06/1949 into Colamb villagers agricultural fields at 4.00 pm. Here are the pictures taken on that moment on the mine when the angry villagers forced thier way on the mine and forced the minig company to stop release of the water into the fields. You are free draw your conclusions on the behaviour of the mining company and how determined it is to ruin Colamb village forever.

Sebastian Rodrigues