Sustainable development mean, any development which can support the life system for generations together. The Highest Court of India while interpreting sustainable development in a case T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad V/S Union of India and ors reported in ALL SCR 2008 held that “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the further generation to meet their own needs is sustainable development”.
In Goa mining is projected as the backbone of Goa’s economy, non other then those who are involved in these activity. But whether mining is the backbone of Goa or not or it will brake our backbone in the years to come, is the duty of every concerned citizen of Goa to judge.
That with regard to the propaganda made by the mining lobby claiming that mining is the backbone of Goa’s economy I want to ask certain questions to those who make such a propaganda . Any project or an activity which has a life span of 20 to 25 can be a backbone of a state? A project which destroys the sustainable sources such as agriculture, garden land, once for all can become a backbone? A project which spread air related dieses to the villagers can be a backbone? A project which destroys the life line like water, forest and air can it be termed as backbone? An activity which destroys the people economic zone can become a backbone of a state ? An activity which make the richer, richer and the poor poorer like the Tribals, can that activity be a backbone? Such activity cannot be a backbone of a state.
That from the study done by me on mining over the years I am of the firm conviction that mining activity in Goa which is today falsely projected as backbone of Goa’s economy by non other then the mining lobby will brake the backbone of Goa’s Economy in the years to come and the damage will be so severe will not be able to withstand.
Every Environment Impact Assessment report submitted by the mining company at the time of applying for environment clearance give the life span of a mine as 20 to 25 years that too when the company explore the ore at a certain limit per annum. Assuming for a while that the life span of a particular mine is 25 years, then what about after 25 years? Will the people living in the mining belt will be able to live a decent life on the mine is over? Who will supply the villager with water?
The rich , the landlord by selling their land and those who are employed in government job will flew from the area, but what about the unfortunate citizens, will they without water, without agriculture will be able to survive? It a known fact and made public by the Environment Impact Assessment report of the mining company, that mining destroys water, agriculture, forest and is a cause to different lung related dieses like silicoses, asthma etc as mentioned in the company Environment Impact Assessment report itself. Without water, agriculture, clean air will our future generation will able to survive! Certainly not.
Now presently the way the mining is going on in Goa it destroy the water resources. The Goa’s topographical system is such that there are mountain or ghats on the eastern side which are the of fresh water reservoirs/tanks of Goa , then the plateau/plains followed by the costal belt. The plateau/plains and the costal belt of Goa are being charged with fresh water which flows from the mountain situated on the eastern side. If for mining activity the western ghats/mountains are destroy then in the near future the water problem in Goa will certainly aggravate. Even now though most of the mountain are intact we are not unable to satisfy the water needs of some of the villagers.
The main source of water supply in south Goa is from the Salaulim Irrigation project which is situated in Sanguem taluka. Presently there are a number of illegal mining is going on in the catchment area of Salaulim irrigation project in collaboration with the officials with are supposed to keep a watch. Due to mining siltation the capacity of the dam to hold water has drastically reduce as mentioned by noted environmentalist Shri Rajendra kerkar in his article publish in local daily Sunaparant on 18/8/2008. Every year it goes on reducing. Recently the Ministry of environment and forest has given environment clearance to 8 mining leases in the catchment areas of Salaulim irrigation project. If these mines started their full fledge operation then Salaulim dam will be silted further and in the years to come it will have not capacity to hold water.
Secondly if the mountain in the catchment area are destroyed for mining activity then in the summer season there will be no reservoirs to supply water to the selaulim dam. If the dam is silted then it will be just a monument like other big dams situated in other states. If salaulim dam could not hold water will south Goa will get water. Even now the dam could not supply sufficient water to entire south Goa. Water source is the base for any development, an activity which destroys states water source cannot provide sustainable development.
That now a number of mine owner are operating illegal mines in Cavrem, Maina, Sulcorna, Colomba villages. Now some of the mine owner are seeking environment clearance to operate the age old mining lease which they have never operated.
The if mining takes place in these area then Kushawati River will silt , particularly the low lying area of Kushawati river and in the years to come it will a cause to flood. The rejection from the mine in the years to come will silt our sea which may result in increasing the water level of our sea. This will destroy our beaches and along with it Tourism industry which can provide our state sustainable development.
The villages which are presently self sufficient like Cavrem, Maina, Pirla, Sulcorna of Quepem Taluka and Colomba Rivona of Sanguem taluka, the mining activity will not only destroy these villages but also in the years to come will vipe out these villages from the map of Goa if all the mining leases granted by the then Portuguese government comes into operation in these villages . There will be hardly any place for forest, water reservoirs , agricultural and even fro the villages to live in if all the leases became operational.
That due to the destruction of peoples economic zones, the people of these villages will be without any source of income particularly the Tribals who will be forced to bag on the street. And even to bag on the street there will be difficulty for them due to damage done to their health by the dust pollution generated by the mining activity. I may not be wrong if I say that their condition will be worse then the mining affected people of Jarkhand and Bihar. If any activity which endangers the life itself cannot provide sustainable development.
In my view an activity which cannot provide sustainable development which endangers the state in the future should not be promoted.
John Fernandes in Herald, Panjim 15th September 2008.