Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ponsalimol Rock Carvings under mining threat

This photo Essay is made possible due to pictures received from Rivona team of - Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP). It is depicting mining threat to the historical site that has ancient rock carvings on the banks of Kushavati River.
The site is preyed by mining companies; on the one side is existing mine in operation bearing T.C. Number 14/1952 of Badruddin Mavani but operated by Radha Timblo covering 100 hectares of land that is involved in dumping of mining overburden on the Kushavati river banks under the direct approval of its all the illegalities by the Mines Minister who is also the current Chief Minister of Goa.
The second mines that is threatening is presently not in operation but has pit of its own. It was in operation till 10 years ago. It belongs to Damodar Mangaljis bearing T.C. No. 84/1953 covering 82 hectares. The company has put in place its boundary with new coloured poles that signifies the preparation of the company to re-start the mining here in near future.
This site in Ponsalimol is recognised by Goa Government's Archeology department but remains largely neglected. There is not even proper shelter for its staff to protect from monsoon rains.
The site that comes within Rivona Panchayat jurisdiction and in Colamb village that has 23 mining leases is frequented by large number of history, culture, archeology enthusiasts.

The site has concentration of rock carvings right on the banks of Kushavati River.
The interpretations are still being being arrived at and no settled views on the same. Debates are still going on the meaning of these carvings.
Common sense view looks senses these carvings as those of wild animals, birds, humans in various posses, fishing implements and many more.
The dense location of the carvings are visible...

Damodar Mangalji's abandoned mine near the Rock carvings. preparations are going on to get this activated again. Mining industry hardly care for the Rock carvings and Historical Heritage. All that it cares for is profits, that too profits at all costs - human, heritage, culture, mountains, water, agriculture, bio diversity, settlements, wildlife and number of other priceless and valued things.

This - above - is a shelter for the official protectors of this valuable historical site!
This is a government of Goa's board directing towards the Rock Carvings. Visit this site in Colamb, Rivona Panchayat jurisdictions before it is blocked and destroyed for mining of Iron ore or Manganese from the ground.
Sebastian Rodrigues

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mining disasters are normal for Fomentos

Its hard to digest yet we are forced to; for Fomento mining company, mining disasters are normal and a part of its trade.

A statement from Lithoferro mining company that has mining lease of collapsed Advalpal mine has said in Herald today that 12 benches collapse of Advalpal mine operated by Fomentos is internal matter of the mining company. The actual operation of the mine is carried with grave threat to the safety, security and economy of the village of Advalpal in Bicholim Taluka. The management sitting at 5 star hotel Cidade de Goa can hardly understand even a fraction of a threat to the village.

This is not the first time that the Fomentos are involved in disaster as policy; in June 2000 its mine - the same one on when it held Environmentalist Rajendra Kerker and Journalist Prerna Bindra as hostage for two hours for clicking photographs of the ore and released after public pressure yesterday evening - collapsed sending dangerous mining silt into People's houses. With that disaster Pissurlem was flooded and mining debris - meter thick - deposited in houses including in kitchens and bedrooms of Pissurlem villagers. Yet no debris reached to Cideade de Goa, its swimming pools are yet to witness mining silt.

Then in Colamb this year itself on June 12, 2008 Fomentos methodically released mining silt in People's agriculture supervised by its site manager and security officers. Fomentos achieved this disastrous feat again on August 09, 2008 by releasing silt into People's agriculture.

With this track record is yet to become clearer as to whom Fomentos are aiming to bluff. Hardly anyone in Goa is now susceptible to swallow Fomentos august bluff. Never mind let's wish all the best to the corporate for its bluffs; for cat while drinking milk from the utensil closes her eyes with the belief that nobody watches her. Fomentos possibly believe the same: nobody watches and understands its mega bluffs.

We can never let any mining company to make disasters as normal practice of operations. if it does so then they have no right to operate the mine. It has to be shut down once for all.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Rajendra Kerker, Prerna Bindra win back freedom from Fomentos

After suffering 2 hours ordeal of wrongful confinement at Pissurlem Fomento's supposedly clandestine mining operations Goa's noted Environmentalist Rajendra Kerker and Journalist from National Press - Tehelka - on Goa visit Prerna Bindra freed themselves last evening.

Both of them were on a Fomento mining visit yesterday when securities intercepted them while taking photographs at around 3.40 pm. It is not yet clear as to which nefarious aspect of its Pissurlem mine that Fomentos was preventing from Public glare: Is it the fact that it is operating this mine on government lands? Is it that it was re-started after a long period of shut down with the influence of MLA and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane? Or does it worried that ugly reality of Pissurlem mining for over half century would open new Pandora's box?

Whichever may be the concern, one thing is clear that Fomentos are scared of Cameras! As soon as Prerna Bindra and Rajendra Kerker started taking Pictures security charged at them. Immediately 1 of them came and then 10 and final number of security was 30! All to prevent two people from taking pictures of the lying Iron Ore.

Fometos response with its security was like it was trying to cover up murder secrets with investigations on freshly buried corpses! Oh yes, Fomentos perhaps has awaken to the fact that its mining practices in Pissurlem, Advalpal, Colamb and all other mines is actually equivalent of murder. Murder of water sources, murder of agriculture, murder of forest, Murder of people through inflicting lung diseases, many other variety of murders. It is happy occasion that Fomentos have finally woken up to its behaviour and actually want to actively cover up and hide from the press and public gaze through deployment of security!

We wish Fomentos all the very best in it's adventure to cover up and may nest time the number of security increase by at least, one more zero - it may increase from 30 to 300 per mine in Goa, for you have so much to hide!

Around 4.55 pm Action Alert was circulated on Goa Net asking people to call up Police station in Valpoi and cell contact of the Valpoi PI Vaigankar when Kerker and Bidra was still in custody of the Fomentos in Pissurlem. After public focus and frantic phone calls to police station, both of them including their driver was rescued at 5.40 pm when the Fomentos was forced to open their closed gates.

Then they were led by police to Valpoi Police station and they were there till 6.40 pm. There Company gave in written complaint of trespass against Kerker and Bindra, police accepted the complaint but yet to register the same. Prerna gave written complaint of indecent behaviour towards her by Fomentos staff. Valpoi Police Station was continuously being contacted by People all over Goa and even abroad. Police on the phone were repeatedly denying the charge of wrongful restraining Kerker and Bindra. Their denial is understandable considering the immense pressure they were under from Cidade de Goa as well from MLA Rane.

Surely, we do not know what Prerna Bindra is going to write in the paper that writes for, but your brave fight in Pissurlem is already an inspiration to us, for you along with Rajendra Kerkar have refused the pressure of 30 male security and management to hand over your cameras to their power and mights!

Struggle continues!!

Sebastian Rodrigues

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Advalpal mine collapses; major tragedy averted‏

BICHOLIM AUG 18: A portion of the Advalpal mine collapsed on Thursday posing a threat to the nearby houses even as no major disaster was reported as the water from the pit got diverted away from the houses.

It may be recalled that the villagers from Advalpal had protested the mining activities in the area some months back and had stalled the work from more than five days. The agitators had demanded immediate closure of the mining in the area. In this connection several villagers including women were arrested and they were restricted entry into the mining area. The people had also staged morcha at the deputy collector's office in protest against the mining.

Later, at the Advalpal Gram Sabha some of the people objected to the agitation and demanded that the mining should be allowed to continued Advalpal. The resolution in favor of the mining was supported by about 120 villagers while only few of them opposed the mining. On Thursday August 14 at around 3.00 pm the surrounding slabs of the mining collapsed into the excavated area thus making way to the stagnant water. "The most of the mining slabs collapsed and the water gushed out of the pit" Kishor Naik a member of the Varchawada Kruti Samiti Advalpal told Herald.

"This time we were lucky as the water did not enter our houses as it went into another pit and some of the water was flown to the other side because of a trench" Naik said adding "this proves that the mining is serious threat to the village and was given permission without looking into the seriousness of the problem."

In 2000 a similar incident had occurred in the village and water along with the silt went directly into the houses which are about 100 mts from the mine. "The mine is not at all safe and so we strongly demand to cancel the license of the said mine" Naik demanded

"the government should take immediate action against the mining and we have also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister in this connection."

"All the authorities should immediately look into the matter and conduct investigation before some major tragedy strikes the village" Kishore said.

Meanwhile, in the copies of the memorandum have been also given to the chief secretary; Bicholim deputy collector and the Mamletdar.

Adapted from Samir Umarye on Bicholim Net

Advalpal anticipates mining disaster: Petitions authorities

Shyansunder P. Naik
Varcha wadda, Advalpal
Bicholim, Goa.

Date: 18/08/2008

The Mamlatdar
Office of the Mamlatdar

Sub:- Dangers to our houses due to “FOMENTO MINES”.


This is to bring to your kind attention that one of the mines operating in Advalpal village lease owned by Lithoferro had blocked the natural nallah/drainage; as a result they are pumping out the rainwater from the pit and let it flow from other nallah which flows from backsides of our houses.

It is also to be noted that all the flashes of the mine have collapsed and therefore, a disaster is anticipated, which is likely to repeat the case of 2000 in which mining reject gushed down into our locality damaging houses at midnight.

Hence in the light of above, our protest against the mines operating at Advalpal has been proved right.

You are therefore requested to conduct a site inspection as early as possible to avoid serious casualties. A case under 133 Cr. Pc. is also pending before Dy. Collector’s Court.

Thanking you,

Yours truly,
(Shamsunder P. Naik)

C.c to

The Chief Minister,
The Chief Secretary,
The Dy.Collector, Bicholim,
The Department of Mines and Geology,
The regional controller office IBM, Fatorda, Margao,
The Director-General of Mine and Safety, Margao,
The M.L.A Bicholim

Salgaocar-Alemao nexus targets Selaulim Dam

Our worst fears on water security are coming true, Public Hearing has just concluded today to dig the earth for mining barely 30 to 50 meters from Selaulim water dam in Curdi-Curpem villages.

Today’s Public Hearing is one more in the series of serious attempt by the mining industry and Central government to dismember Goa and bleed it to death. Today’s Public Hearing involved T.C. No. 60/1952 of S. Kantilal Pvt. Ltd at Asni Dongor Iron Ore Mine covering Survey numbers 27, 37, 38 and 39 in Curdi village of which survey number 39 is private reserved forest identified under Sawant and Karapurkar Committee. Survey number 2 of Curpem village is also within the jurisdiction of this mine and listed as Government forest. Total land to go under mining here is 46 hectares.

Local sarpanch of Vaddem Panchayat was pathetic in his intervention, he demanded Rs.300/- per month per family as contribution from the mining company. Besides this he also suggested introducing 'hafta' system to generate revenue for the Vaddem Panchayat. 'Hafta' system is integral part of parallel economy based on extortions.

There are several People who opposed mining proposal, Rama Velip of GAKUVED was one of them.

You may well imagine the alarming state of affairs with regard to Salaulim water dam if the nefarious nexus between the two MLAs of Goa Legislative Assembly Anil Salgaokar and Joaquim Alemao are allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs to disrupt water supply in South Goa including cities of Margao and Vasco.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Rajendra Kerker, Prerna Bindra held hostage on Fomentos Pissurlem mines

According to the reports just received at 4.55 pm today Goa's noted environmental activist Rajendra Kerker has been held hostage along with Journalist Prerna Bindra of National Newspaper. Both of them have been surrounded on the Fomento mines in Pissurlem near Honda, Sattari taluka in North Goa.

They were on a visit there when the some people believed to be the employees of Fomentos' ILPL mining company have surrounded them and are not allowing them to move out.

Please contact Valpoi Police Inspector Shivram Vaigankar at his cell number: 9823225883 and also call up Valpoi Police station at 0832-2374255 and ask Police to act fast to release both - Rajendra Kerker as well as Prerna Bindra.

Shame Fomentos, Shame on your company and mining practices.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goodbye Public Hearings! Now Goa is India’s internal Colony!!

Almost all the newspapers in Goa had revenue earning advertisement from Dempo Mining Corporation Pvt. Ltd. on 14th August 2008 - just one day before on its 61st Independence Day. It is also the day when mine operated by another mining firm Fomentos - notorious for environmental violations collapsed in Advalpal, Bicholim at around 3.00pm.

The advertisement reads as follows with 'NOTICE' as its header and signed by P.K. Joshi, Dy. General Manager (Mining) with 13th August, 2008 as notice date:

“This is for the information of the general public that, the Bicholim Iron Ore Mines of M/s Dempo Mining Corporation Pvt. Ltd., bearing T.C. Nos. 11 of 1941, 12 of 1941, 13 of 1941 and 15 of 1941 had been accorded Environmental Clearance from the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India, vide their letter No. J-11015/45/2005-IA.II (M) dated 17th November, 2005, for a period of two years from the date of grant. This was also displayed on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, http://www.envfor.nic.in/

Further, upon fulfilling the submissions of requisite details the Ministry of Environment & Forest vide their letter No. J-11015/45/2005-IA.II(M) dated 17th September, 2007, deleted the said period of two years from the aforesaid clearance. As such the clearance is for the life of the project.

The copy of the clearance letter is available at the office of the Goa State pollution Control Board, Dempo Towers, Patto, Panjim, Goa and this information was also displayed on the website of Ministry of Environment & Forests http://www.envfor.nic.in/

The notice – that strangely mentions common reference for both the cited letters - in a flash of a second transferred the entire discourse of Public involvement with regard to Industry and mining to the pre Environment Protection Act, 1986 era. That was a time when the country’s industry was under heavy assault from public, intelligentsia and media thereby earning increasingly intolerable public notoriety to industry. The Indian State-Industry nexus then came out with Environment Protection Act, 1986. The passing of this act served double purpose then: it earned back the lost legitimacy of the Public, Intelligence and Media, and secondly it institutionalized protests within state frameworks by inventing “Public Hearings” mandatory under the Act. Time and again the public affected by projects were dished out with illusions that their say is being ‘heard’ and actively under consideration of the government of India.

But soon public Hearings became a nuisance for the State-Industry nexus and “Public hearings were – legally as well as out of legal bounds - sent through transformations. Oppositions to the large number of projects were ignored and Ministry of Environment and Forests cleared the projects through its ‘Environmental Clearances’. Sometimes at the Public Hearings armed policemen were stationed in order to prevent known opponents of the project from getting access to the authorities. One group – Bindrai Institute of Research Study and Action’s Mines Monitoring Centre (BIRSA-MMC) in Jharkhand even has referred to these phenomena as ‘Gun Sunvayi’ (Gun Hearings) as against ‘Jan Sunvayi’ (Public Hearings). In Polavaram Dam Public Hearing case in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring States, five Public Hearings were conducted by the State on the same date and time simultaneously so that forces opposing the project get effectively fragmented on the day of the Public Hearings. After Jharkhand movements began effectively blocking government officials from entering the villages to conduct public hearings, State then modified the law that mandated clearances of the project in case Public blockade to the Public Hearing venue. One Public Hearing was organised inside the company premises in Jharkhand!

The Goa Scenario
Public hearings for mining projects are held in Goa over the past one decade. Initially there was very little awareness about this in Goa. However once the awareness slowly began rising, modalities of Public Hearings began changing too. Today in Goa we have several models of Public Hearings ranging from total support to mining industry to total opposition. At a time when Public Hearings were becoming popular in Goa mining industry sought to mobilize unruly groups mostly consisting of truck drivers and truck owners to shout down those who would be opposing mining projects including Goa Foundation. However in all the cases objections of those opposing mining industry has been overruled and 73 mining projects has been given Environmental Clearance and several more are in the pipeline to get the same.

Rising protests against mining however has gone one step forward and challenged clearance given to one mining project of Zantye Company that was strongly opposed by the villagers in Sarvona, Bicholim. The challenge is being waged by Ramesh Gauns, a teacher from Bicholim and Best Teachers’ awardee for 2008 at the appellate authority in Delhi and that in the meanwhile that has prevented commissioning of the project for over one year there by depriving heavy revenue to the company considering that the per tone cost of Ore at International market is over Rs.80 thousand. That works out to Rs.8 Crore per smallest barge of 1000 tonnes and Rs.20 Crore for bigger barge of 2,500 tonnes that navigates under the Mandovi and Zuari bridges. Mining industry can hardly afford such lethal delays in their digging, washing and selling missions on Goa’s lush green mountains.

On the othersider the public discontent against mining is increasing with the passage of every new day. The villages affected with mining are networking amongst themselves and mining industry is clearly going to be under increasing pressure in the future. The recent Public Hearings in Quepem and Sanguem talukas has made it very difficult to mobilize support in its favour. The news about Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests got published in Goa in this context.

Mining industry think tanks that cares a hoot for people of Goa and its Environment did sense all this, it did anticipate increasing public hostility to its ecological crimes on Goa and that’s why Dempos and other mining companies has opted for convincing Environment Ministry in various ways – legitimate and illegitimate - in doing away with the need for fresh EIA studies and holding of fresh Public Hearings and getting Environmental Clearance for the life of the project.

Implications: Goa as India’s Internal Colony
There are several implications of this ‘Life long Environmental Clearance’. In the first place along with the mining industry it is the Ministry of Environment and Forest that has clearly exposed its nexus with each other. Henceforth, increasing public anger is likely to get directed- along with the mining industry – towards Ministry of Environment and Forests. Secondly, legitimacy the Ministry of Environment and Forest as well as State of India to uphold constitutional duty as well as directive principle stands muzzled by its own action to support the marauding mining industry in Goa. Ministry of Environment and Forests is answerable to the People of Goa as to what crimes they have committed for which they are being environmentally ruined?

The mindset with which it has given life long clearances to the mining companies in Goa is a colonial mindset. Goa is fast being converted into internal colony of India ruled through briefcases from mining industry – the same way Portuguese rule Goa during its last 30 years from 1930s to 1950s ending in 1961. Portuguese gave patrimonial rights to mining companies. It was and is life long too, Life long of all future generations of the mining companies. Indian government though its Environment and Forest Ministry’s licence to plunder Goa’s mineral wealth to handful of families at the cost of its people, agriculture, water bodies, forests and fresh air has exposed itself as internally Colonial State; it will remain so until it revokes lifelong Environmental Clearances granted to Dempos and other mining companies in Goa. If the Central government does not revoke its decisions then we may as well witness anti-Colonial movement emerging in Goa in future.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rekha crosses lifeline, dies of T.B.

Nature Environment Society and Transformation (NEST) received major jolt to its organisation as one of its frontal volunteers Rekha Revadiker succumbed to tuberculosis on August 11, 2008 in Belgaum, Karnataka. She was 35. Rekha Revadikar besides playing key role in setting up NEST base in Chorao, Tiswadi was one of the enthusiastic and concerned about society even while she was gripped with illness herself.
Rekha joined NEST team in 2003 and not only participated but also helped out in organising in number of NEST programs all over India. Before joining NEST she was active in Belgaum with Islamic social service networks and was fluent in Arabic. She however resisted pressures to convert to Islam and quit the networks and came to Goa.
Rekha was brilliant undoubtedly; when she came to Goa she had not yet cleared her graduation but with able guidance from Dr. Bikram Dasgupta, NEST founder and faculty at Chemistry department of Goa University, she completed her graduation, then went on to complete her post graduation in Sociology presently she had completed her first year M.Phil at Centre for Latin American Studies, Goa University.

Rekha did produced some of the fantastic papers over the past five years; Flora and Fauna of Latin America, Foraging Ant communities, Political ideas and life of Rosa Rosenberg are some of these.

Rekha Revadiker was a face in the crowd with a difference. NEST deeply condoles her death and pays rich tributes to her. She has been inspiration to all of us: particularly a trail blazer in community work, she has been a message that you do not need academic degrees to serve society but a willing heart: Rekha possessed huge heart of selfless service. Rekha continues to live in all of us at NEST.
Rekha came to Goa with a dream of standing on her own feet; she did not realize it but put NEST on firm foundation with her silent dedicated work. Thank you Rekha for all that you have been to us, we dedicate ourselves to carry the values and message that you left behind. Goodbye...
Sebastian Rodrigues

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dempos releases mining silt into Bicholim River

Goa's most famous corporate group that is know for promotion of Soccer - Dempo mining Corporation - cares a hoot for Goa's rivers. With its rampant mining violating all the laws including the conditions in its Environmental Clearance order and continuously releasing its mining water into the Bicholim river.
It has even dug specially cemented pathways for polluting water. These particular pictures are from Pilgao where Dempos Beneficiation plant as well as its water sucking pump operates on Bicholim river.
The water that empties into the river is stark red. You can see it in the above picture.
The mega source however is in the Bicholim town itself where in it operates its mines. However it has no mechanisms in place to check pollution of Bicholim River that meets Mandovi River causing enormous siltation to both the rivers.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Fomentos do it again! Releases mining silted water into village!!

On August 09, 2008 Fomentos did it again! After June 12, 2008 release of water into agricultural fields there was protest and it was thought that Fomentos has learnt a lesson. But it supervised water release into agricultural lands again. It is now ample clear that Fomentos capacity to lessons is below the level of a moron. In the picture above is Shanto Velip from Colamb examining polluted water released in the open to accumulate in the fields and to cause siltation of fields as well as of Kushavati river networks.
This is the way the water is release from the mines
Fomentos destruction of forest land has caused immense damage to wildlife. This snake too has message to Fomentos.
Brown treatment to Green Colamb from mining company

Oh! the water release into the Colamb village farming lands are secure with deployed security!
This is where the silted water from the mine have settled down.
You would not get any clearer view of the silted from Fomentos that operate Hiralal Khodidas mining lease no. 06/1949 in Colamb, Sanguem, Goa, India.
Fometos are truly geniuses in ruining settled and peaceful villages of Goa. Other mining companies are not far behind in this respect. This is a cost Goa is paying: bleeding itself away in order to fetch minimum of Rs. 8 Crores per barge of 1000 tonnes that navigates under Mandovi and Zuari bridges.
Another view of the accumulated silt water.

Ripper is still stationed at the mine site in Colamb
High powered water pump in operation inside the Hiralal Khodidas mine in Colamb. Fometos are amongst major water abusers of Goa. They must be criminally tried for crimes against planet earth.
This is one more picture of flowing silted water.
Here are two company officials of the Fomento mining company that are supervising destruction of Colamb village.
This is how water is released again from the arresters of the mining company. Arresters are meant to prevent water leakages into the village but that is only in the law. Practice is complete Topsy - turvey.
Sebastian Rodrigues