Sunday, June 29, 2008

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.

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