Sunday, June 29, 2008

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.

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