Friday, October 31, 2008

GAKUVED demands closure of the Colamb Fomento mine

Rivona Panchayat unit of Gawada, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) has urged South Goa Collector to intervene and close down the Fomento Iron Ore mine in Colamb, Sanguem, Goa.

In a letter to South Goa Collector, GAKUVED has urged the State administration to intervene and stop Fomentos from operating mining lease in the name of Hiralal Khodidas in Colamb village as it is creating siltation of the agricultural lands. Fomentos have resumed the mining activity after the break monsoon break.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Fomentos deploys 100 trucks on Colamb mine

According to the information received from Colamb, Sanguem, Goa late last night Fomentos has increased the work on its Colamb mine with around 100 trucks plying inside the mine premises. No transportation outsite the mine is however has resumed. There are reports of clashes between the villagers and staff of the Fomento mining company over the past couple of days.

Villagers are fighting the mining activity in the village as it is ruining the village and Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) had even passed resolution on August 10 2008 requesting Fomentos to voluntarity abandon its Colamb mine due to protest from the community.

Fomentos however have refused and have gone against the wishes of the protesting villagers so far.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Photo essay on Maina protests against mining

85 year Old Dora de Souza - in chains - is to whom this blog posting is dedicated to. She provided seasoned motivation to the current movement in Goa to defend its water sources and mountains from rampant open cast mining activities. None of the mining companies - Sesa Goa (Vedantas), Dempos, Bandekars, Chowgules, Salgaoncars, Dempos, Timblos, Fomentos, Tarcar and all the rest and their supporting Contractors, Politicians and Police - has created any of the mountains of Goa and they have no right at all to export them to Japan, China and elsewhere in the world. Mining in Goa must stop with immediate effect. Or whole of Goa will have to follow the example of Dora and chain themselves up on streets. Dora, we salute you! We salute your concern for your grand and great grand children of Goa! We salute your courage to be in chains on street in 85th year of your life! Goa is fortunate to have blessed with you as a gift!
Protests in front of the Dinar Tarcar mine in Maina, Quepem. Three women Rita Fernandes, Cheryl de Souza Sanfransisco and her 85 year old mother Dora de Souza chained themselves on the road blocking transportation of the ore en route to China and elsewhere. They were protesting against what is happening to Goa - its mountains and water sources - due to rampant reckless open cast iron ore, manganese and bauxite mining.

Manager of Tarcar mine while discussing the reason for the road blockade with the protesters.


Rita Fernandes is one of the Goa's brave woman that chained herself on the road.


Chery de Souza standing tall in the middle of the protest against mining in Goa.


Women and men from Colamb, Sanguem came to express solidarity with Maina and its women in chains who later in the evening of October 11 2008 were arrested and transformed into women in Jails. The four women were sent to Aguada jail after they refused to take Jail. It was first jail experience for all of them.

Truck drivers were the most most furious lot. Here one of them seen arguing with the women in chains on road. he could not convince women to get out from the road. Women gave him fitting reply and sent off.

Shashikala Devidas - lady in yellow Saree - was fourth woman arrested along with three men - Karush Canteenwala, Sebastian Rodrigues and Fr. Mathias D'Cunha. Picture shows security check office on the gate of Dinar Tarcar's mine.
9 year old Aki Sanfransisco also joined the protest of Women in chains. She is grand daughter of Dora de Souza and Daughter of Chery de Souza.
Fr. Mathias D'Cunha sdb offering solidarity to women in chains in Maina. He was one of the person beaten up by mining goons in presence of Police team from Quepem police station.









Police Closing in on women in chains. PI Santosh Desai was trying to convince women that India is democratic country and minutes latter he supervised beating up of nearly 10 people by mining goons. So much to protect democracy PI Santosh Desai has done. Only betrayed democracy and insulted uniform that he is wearing with serious dereliction of his duties.











This man is dead some months ago. He is husband of Cheryl. His picture on the protest site made him come alive. With his foresight he along with his family re-located himself to Maina and the fight to protect Goa's hinterlands continues. Entire people of Goa are now his family to carry on the defence of our land and his land as well.










This Photographer is contractor of Dinar Tarcar as well as of Fomentos. His name is Ashok Naik and hails from Curchorem-Sanvordem. He was one of the close collaborator of ring leader of violence inflicter Balli Zilla Parishad member Subash Phaldesai. He is also one of the persons to hurl abuses on women protesters including on women from Colamb offering solidarity to Dora and her team.









Men in abusive mood during the confrontation. This woman sat there with her back to the dirty insulting abuses hurled at them.
CID Premanand Phaldessai from from Quepem Police station while on visit to to the protest to collect intelligence report. Dora and Cheryl giving their details in writing.

Members of the local Panchayat furiously moving around the scene. Their motives could be understood or guessed!

People waiting on the main road - mostly truck drivers- that later in the afternoon transformed themselves into violent mob with act of omission from Goa Police present out at the scene of unfolding violence. This cannot happen without exchange of few brief cases. Goa Police - the way they behaved on October 11, 2008 in Maina - is indeed truly shameful in the history of Goa. They could could not prevent violence unfolding in front of them - Strong force of around 20 policemen. And to add insult to the injury people protesting mining - that has ripped and looted Goa's mountains, water, agriculture - were arrested on the charges of trespass, unlawful assembly and rioting!

Goa Police - Mining companies is a shady deal of nexus at its best.

Police tried unsuccessfully to convince protesters to move away from their chains. PI Santosh Dessai was at his aggressive best on the day telling Chery de Souza Sanfransisco, when protested the way her ailing aged mother was being bundled out inside the Police white Gypsy "To do what she wants to do."
And just to recall: Dinar Tarcar is former youth congress president who only year ago argued that due to absence of planning development in Goa be freezed for 5 years! His party is dominant ruling partner in coalition government headed by Digambar Kamat as Chief Minister of Goa that had advised the village groups to physically stop mining few months ago when group of 22 affected villagers and concerned organisations called on him at his official residence in Panjim.
Sebastian Rodrigues

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

GOACAN Action Alert on the Goa Industrial Development (Amendment) Ordinance 2008

Greetings from GOACAN!

The Govt. of Goa through the Official Gazette Series 1 No. 27 Extraordinary, dated 3rd October 2008 costing Rs.1/- has announced an amendment to the Goa Industrial Development Act, 1965 (Act 22 of 1965). This Amendment is in the form of an Ordinancewhich has been promulgated by the Governor of Goa as the " Legislative Assembly of the State of Goa is not in session " and the Governor of Goa is "satisfied that circumstances exist " which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.

It is also interesting to note that this amendment to the Goa Industrial Development Act, 1965 (Act 22 of 1965) has come at a time when amendments have been made to 16 & 16A of the Town and Country Planning Act and the Regional Plan for Goa 2021 is yet to be finalised.

GOVERNMENT OF GOA
Department of Law & Judiciary
Legal Affairs Division
Notification 8/7/2008-LA
The Goa Industrial Development (Amendment) Ordinance, 2008 (Ordinance No. 7 of 2008), which has been promulgated by the Governor of Goa on 1st October 2008 is hereby published for general information of the public.

Sharad G. Marathe,
Joint Secretary (Law)
Porvorim
3rd Oct 2008

The Goa Industrial Development (Amendment)Ordinance, 2008 (Ordinance No. 7 of 2008)Promulgated by the Governor of Goa in the Fifty--ninth Year of the Republic of India. An Ordinance further to amend the Goa Industrial Development Act, 1965 (Act 22 of 1965). Whereas the Legislative Assembly of the State of Goa is not in session and the Governor of Goa is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.

Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 213 of the Constitution of India, the Governor of Goa is pleased to promulgate the following Ordinance, namely:—

1. Short title and commencement.—
(1) This Ordinance may be called the Goa Industrial Development (Amendment) Ordinance, 2008.
(2) It shall come into force at once. Amendment of section 2.— In section 2 of the Goa Industrial Development Act, 1965 (Act 22 of 1965) (hereinafter referred to as the "principal Act"), for clause (e), the following clause shall be substituted, namely:—

"(e) "Development" with its grammatical variations, means the carrying out of building, engineering, quarrying, mining or other operations, in, on, over, or under land, or the making of any material change of any building or land, and includes re-development and"to develop" shall be construed accordingly".

3. Amendment of section 13.— In section 13 of the "principal Act", after clause (b), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—

"(c) undertake mining and infrastructure for mining development and such other related activities within India subject to provision of law";

Dr. Shivinder Singh Sidhu
Governor of Goa.
Place: Raj Bhawan,
Dona Paula.
Date: 1-10-2008.

Series I No.27 Extraordinary - Page No. 971 Price Rs.1 Government Printing Press, Panaji - Goa

You can do the following:

1. Arrange to get this information to your Village Panchayat / Municipal Councils where mega projects are being planned so that the members / councillors can discuss the same immediately and take swift action to convene a Gram Sabha or Citizens Meet as the case may be.

2. Arrange to get this information to the various citizens & organisations in those villages & Talukas where IT Parks/ SEZ's/ New Industrial Estates / Mining Leases / Mega Housing & other Projects are proposed so that they can discuss the same and participate effectively in the Gram Sabha / Public Hearing / Citizens Meeting that may be organised.

3. Arrange to get a copy of the Goa Industrial Development Act, 1965 (Act 22 of 1965) and read & discuss the same to see in what way such an amendment could impact your village, Taluka and District.

4. Arrange to contact the print and visual media to carry news, features and interviews on the implications of such an amendment.

5. Arrange to write letters to the Editors of the various newspapers and magazines expressing your views on the need & urgency for such an Ordinance, the timing, the contents and the implications of the same.

So the time is come To SAVE GOA by MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK !!

To make the 73rd & 74th Constitutional Amendments effective in Goa !!

To participate in planning for sustainable development in Goa !!

To move ahead from being able to AGONISE to being able to ORGANISE !!

We are confident that you will do the needful and we would be grateful if you would inform us of what steps you have taken on this ACTIONALERT.

In solidarity,
best wishes,
Roland Martins
(Co-ordinator)
GOA CIVIC AND CONSUMER ACTION NETWORK
promoting civic and consumer rights in Goa
GOACAN Post Box 187 Margao, Goa 403 601
GOACAN Post Box 78 Mapusa, Goa
403 507
mail: goacan@bsnl.in

Fr. Mathias D’Cunha sdb on Maina protests, beatings and arrests

I, The undersigned, Fr. Mathias D’Cunha sdb., would like to give a detailed description of the untoward incident that took place on 11th of October 2008.

It was a bright Saturday morning and anti mining group under the banner of Goamap had decided to block the transport of ore from the Maina-Caurem mine, as the whole landscape which has natural beauty, is continuously being destroyed bit by bit. Presently the mining industry is booming and mines are mushrooming by the day. We had decided to protest in the Gandhian way, peacefully without using violence or force. This mine operated by Mr. Dinar Tarcar having T.C. No. 59/51 is illegally operated and is situated in 3 surveys that of : Maina, Rivona and Caurem in the Pirla – Cauvrem Panchayat. It has destroyed a lot of trees and some are ‘buried to rise again’ hopefully, when the activities stop.

On 11th October 2008 at about 9.15 am a few ladies and some men including myself went to this mine mentioned above. There were four ladies most affected by the mine and its ill effects and are to be further affected by a new mine just touching their compound in Maina itself to be operated by Mr. Joaquim Alemao, the honourable Minister for Urban Development. The ladies, Mrs. Dora desouza aged 85, Mrs Cheryl de Souza e Sanfransisco, aged 40, (both Rita and Shashikala are working with Mrs. Cheryl) and little girl Aki Sanfransisco aged 8 years (daughter of Mrs. Cheryl). The little girl Aki who came a little later at about 10.30 am was holding a picture of her late father Mr.Tony Sanfransisco. These ladies chained themselves at the entrance of the mine and we were around watching them and their boldness in showing their demands. Then the drivers of the mine transporters showed up and no tipper vehicles was allowed in or out. The manager being informed by the security came to inquire and was told that we were protesting the mining activities in the area. The cameramen Mr. Khurus Kanteenwalla and Mr. Sebastian Rodrigues were shooting the event.

Then at around 10.30 am a gentlemen came and took the ladies names and my name too. We enquired who he was and were told that he was CID Premanand Phaldessai. He asked us what we were doing and took off in a vehicle of the mining company. Only at 03.10 pm the PI Mr. Santosh Dessai turned up and walked to Mrs. Cheryl asking her whether she had taken legal steps before protesting. He claimed that the protest was not right. Mrs Cheryl was forthright in saying that after going to the Chief Minister, Mr. Digambar Kamat, the Mines Department and the Chief Forest Conservator, she could not get their support against this destructive action of the mining lobby. They had raised their hands up in defeat and she was not taking defeat lying down and wanted to make her point. The police Inspector told her that he was giving her time to leave the place or he would show her and the rest. A woman being so strong was a defeat to this inspector whose pride was hurt. He was not able to threaten an emancipated lady for she was firm in her decision. A little earlier a bus load load of about 35 people turned up from Colomba-Rivona.

The inspector returned once again with two vehicles, one a Gypsy and the other the Sumo loaded with man and women police. At the same time as though well planned the lorry owners and drivers were shouting that the mines were their bread and they were ready to stop if we offered them jobs. Two or three of them were hailing stones of bad words at all of us and it was disgusting to hear. The police lined up, were watching action and suddenly the vehicles which were ahead were made to be parked in front and as the blue Maruti car belonging to Mrs. Cheryl was being driven it was stopped by the rowdies and one of the men took of ignition key and pulled out the driver Kassim. They started to beat him when Mr. Seby Rodrigues ran to save him. The police were around as the goons and rowdies were trying to damage the vehicles. It was in the middle of the road. One of them tried to puncture the wheels. They got more violent and did not want any photographs to be taken while one of their men was taking snaps on his mobile camera. Then Seby was hit badly and his camera whisked off, though he ws not taking any photos at all. His camera was thrown onto the ground and his shoulder bag taken away by the miscreant. As he was on ground, our people picked him up. I ran to see the harm caused to him and the same one who attacked Mr. Seby ran towards Mr. Khurus and also started slapping him and threw him to the ground shouting ‘get lost from here’, ‘leave this place immidiately’. Fortunately he had handed over his bag with camera to a lady. He lost his spectacles in the tussle, had bruises and his leg was hurt as he began limping; I rushed to him and I was also hit by the rowdy Mr. Subash Phaldessai, who is supposedly the member (President) of the Zilla Parishad Council. Mr. Subash started using abusive language and even said nasty things to the women and of course to me as a priest. It was only then that the police acted by taking the women, Mrs. Cheryl, Miss Aki and others into police vehicle. The lady Mrs. Dora was not able to walk as she had her walker to help her and she was roughly handled in spite of her age and then taken to the Gypsy jeep. To me it seemed to look as if the police has connived with the lorry drivers and the mining people to create some commotion in order to act. We, the defenceless victims were taken in as criminals, while the criminals went scot-free and were not touched at all.

Then they attacked Mr. Robert Pinto, the driver of Mrs. Cheryl. He was slapped by them and the keys of the Grey Maruti Swift taken from his hands after he had parked the vehicles on the side. While I was watching I too was put into the Sumo vehicle. Mrs. Cheryl shouted to help her mother who is a heart patient. The P.I. was not polite at all and told her to shut up and do what she wanted. He spoke in a very angry tone and disrespectfully to a respectable lady. We were then driven to the Police Station at Quepem. We were all in the same jeep when I heard Mrs. Cheryl telling her daughter that the same people (police) who are supposed to uphold the law and help the weak were now not upholding the law and supporting the strong. As we were leaving the men were still abusing and saying nasty things to all of us in the vehicle. The other Gypsy police vehicle with Mrs. Dora and others came behind us.

We were at the police station at around 4.45 pm. We were eight adults, Cheryl, Dora, Shashikala, Rita, Seby, Khurus, Robert, myself and little girl Aki. The goons and drivers were there to see the whole drama. The formalities were taking a long period and the police were keeping us in as criminals. All the while we were under impression that the police did a good thing by protecting us when our Advocate Mr. Mario told us that we were arrested under many sections. From then the police did not allow us to move from where we were sitting on benches. Our supporters were constantly taking care of our material needs supplying all that we required as we had not eaten from the morning. There were a lot of people pleading for us to P.I. and Magistrate/ Dy Collector of Margao, Mr. Venanacio Furtado. Rev. Fr. Mevrick, the representative of Peace and Justice for the Goa diocese, was there with many people like some of our priests, Fr. Chrysologous D’Cunha, Fr. Dominic Savio Fernandes, Fr. Ralin D’Souza, Fr. Leo Pereira and other activists. It took ages for police to make arrest papers getting all the details from us criminals though we were the victims, while the perpetrators were not even arrested and it was for that very reason that we refused to take bail. Finally at around 8.30 pm we were sent by the police in 2 jeeps to the Churchorem Government hospital for a medical check up.

We were being checked by the Doctor on duty and six policemen were there to see that we do not escape from the place, and those wanting to go to the toilet were accompanied by two police. The Doctor checked all of us and gave some first aid treatment to those who needed it. I had some pressure and as I did not know the tablet I was taking he decided to admit me in the hospital. After the police informed the Quepem police I was admitted with two police to guard me for the night, it was now 10.30 pm. Being exhausted and hungry I went off to sleep but it was a disturbed one with phone calls coming inquiring about my situation. Three of our farm boys – Pravin, Francis and Prakash – came to the hospital with some dinner for me. At about 11.45 pm in came my supporters Mr. Salvador Fernandes and Mathew Fernandes to keep company for the night as they realized that I was admitted in the hospital. They took chance to lie down by the side and the police too slept. At about 2. am I got a call from Mrs. Cheryl complaining about the conditions at Fort Aguada Jail, especially for the aged mother Dora, where they were taken for Judicial custody. I rang one or two people informing them of it in the mid of night waking them up. Then at 3 am I got up again and realized that the police protecting me had disappeared. So I informed my advocate in the morning and he told me they could get me in trouble if I went away. So I was there patiently and the Doctor on duty realized that my pressure was still the same and I remembered the tablet I was taking and after confirming the same with my Doctor, Stecey Moraes, the next two who had replaced the earlier two supporters got it for me. Only in the evening when I asked the doctor to check with the police station why the police had left the place I was informed that I was not charge sheeted. I was then given the discharge note by the Doctor on duty who earlier was not ready to give it. So at about 3.15 pm I left the hospital for Don Bosco, Sulcorna with Fr. Simao Fernandes who had come to see me in the hospital.

Fr. Mathias D’Cunha sdb

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maina protests, Maina Beatings, Maina Arrests, In Prison and then Freedom: A long voyage in short time

On October 11, 2008 I, Sebastian Rodrigues was on very special assignment – offering solidarity to the one of the unique protests in the history of Goa where in 85 year old Dora de Souza was to chain herself in front of the mining company in defence of Goa’s mountains and water.

Protest began around 9.30 am when Dora de Souza accompanied by her daughter Cheryl de Souza Sanfransisco and her relative Rita Fernandes chained them on mining road in front of the gate of the mine operated by Dinar Tarcar of Panjim. This created blockade of the transportation of the mining trucks. Officials of the company came and enquired as to why the women had chained themselves to which Cheryl replied that she is protesting to what is happening to Goa because of mining. There were also one more woman present with the protestors Shashikala Devidas. The men included two cameramen - myself and Karush Canteenwala from Pune and Selesian Priest from Sulcorna Fr. Mathias D’Cunha.

At around 10.45 am Cheryl’s around 8 year-old-daughter Akki Sanfrancisco joined the protesting group. Around 11.30 am one mini bus full of People came from Colamb to support Maina protestors. There must be around 40 people that came in this minibus. Around 25 of them were women. They went and joined the protesting team.

Group of truck drivers and members of public gathered and was observing the proceedings as the way protest was going on. At around 3.10 pm group Police jeep came from Quepem Police station. It contained around 20 police personnel of which some were female police of the constable rank. Police party was led by Quepem Police Inspector Santosh Desai.

He came out of the Jeep along with other and advanced towards the protestors and asked them to move away from the scene. Cheryl de Souza refused to move and in fact told him that they are protesting against destruction of Goa’s hills due to mining industry. She also said that she had petitioned every authority she could think of but all of them have been extremely unkind and unresponsive. Only after that she has taken drastic step of chaining themselves up in front of the mine in Mina.

Then PI Santosh Desai withdrew along with the police party and went and stood around 15 meters away from the protestors – on the edge of the public tarred road. Then unruly crowd that had gathered on the main road began shouting abusive language against the protestors. They demanded that their daily loss of income from ore transportation due to road blockade be compensated by the protestors. Then they began abusing Cheryl for creating trouble by chaining themselves up. Then the group began to grow boisterous and began threatening violence.

I notice Balli Zilla Parishad member Subhash Phaldessai - whom I knew earlier when he protested against bauxite mining at Public hearing held at Fatorpa Shantadurga temple hall earlier this – amongst the unruly crowd. In fact he was the one who was leading the band that began violently attacking Casim – man who drives Cheryl’s car- on the tarred road. I saw he was being beaten up and police was watching from far. Then I saw Robert Pinto – body guard of Cheryl’s daughter Akki Sanfransisco being beaten up through blows on his back and head and forehead. Even as he mad an attempt to run away crowd led by Subhash Phaldessai, ran to beat him up even further. Cheryl unchained herself at this juncture and chained her daughter and moved towards police and asked them as to why they are silent spectators when all this violence was unfolding in front of their eyes. Unruly crowd then pushed Cheryl as she tried to rescue Robert with mouthful of abuses.

While all this was going on Ashok Naik, mining contractor came to the fore and demanded to know as to why Colamb people have come to Maina. He along with
others started hurling abuses on Colamb villagers. They told them to get out from the scene and go away in their bus if not their bus would be stoned. Colamb group began to move towards their bus.

Group of unruly crowd then went over to Cheryl’s two cars that were parked on the main road and began stoning. One person tried to puncture the front right tire of one of her cars.

Then same group indulging in violence led by Subash Phaldessai attacked Fr. Mathias D’Cunha. First they used filthy language on him accusing him of having irresponsible sexual behaviour and maintaining sexual relations with large number of women. He is mixing with the protestors in order to satisfy his sexual desires. Then they hit him on his head and shoulders.

Then I was attacked most vociferously by the group led by Subash Phaldessai. Nearly seven people pounced on me giving blows, some pulling my bag – that contained the charger of my video camera, my pen drive with data on it, my notebook with handwritten notes, my telephone diary with contact phone numbers, others pulling another bag that contained my video camera, batteries for the camera, blank tapes and silicon bag for camera moisture absorber. Subash Phaldessai was wearing bright pink shirt, black pant and black shoes. He hit me on my head and I fell to the ground. Somebody then pulled my camera bag with video camera in it. I was kicked again on my abdomen by Subash and his collaborators of violence. Then somebody pulled my other bag from my shoulders. Then Subash got on to my chest and beat me up. He kicked my neck, kicked my head, and then once I fell down he stood up and he kicked me in on my eyes and upper portion of nose that sustained injury. My left hand too sustained injury after I fell down on road. He used right foot to kick me on face with athletic agility. Then somebody pulled me up from the middle of guys beating me up and I realize that it was one of the young police constables in uniform. I wonder why police could not prevent all this violence. I saw my camera has disappeared and tapes were being smashed to pieces on the road itself. Silica bag was torn open on the road.

Then I saw Karush Kanteenwala being beaten. He was very badly kicked on his knees, on his head, on his chest and on his shoulders. They tried to take away his camera through violent blows all over his body. They however could not succeed in doing this.

Then I was proceeding towards minibus of the Colamb people police constable came from behind me and whisked me away. I was taken to the white coloured police jeep and was made to sit. I saw Rita Fernandes, Cheryl de Souza Sanfransisco and Shashikala Devidas was already in the Police Jeep. 85-year-old Cheryl’s mother Dora de Souza was still chained sitting on white chair with her grand daughter Akki Sanfransisco besides her.

Cheryl told PI Dessai to handle her mother carefully as she is a heart patient. PI Santosh Dessai on his part shouted back at Cheryl that he will do what he wants and will teach her a lesson, and Cheryl is free to do what she like to do. Incredible callous highhandedness to support mining industry!

85-year-old Dora de Souza that suffers from Heart problem as well as arthritis was bundled inside the jeep from the backdoor.

The entire operation of October 11, 2008 was planned with careful and consolidated nexus between Balli Zilla Parishad member Subash Phaldessai as ring leader of violence on protestors, mining company and truck operators.

Around 5.00 pm we were taken to Quepem police station. We were made to wait there and were told that we are under arrest. We were surprised that the mining company that is destroying Goa’s mountains and its water sources are allowed to go scot-free while nine of us that includes 85-year-old Dora de Souza, her 40-year-old widowed daughter Chery de Souza Sanfransisco, her 8-year-old Akki Sanfransisco, her middle aged relative Rita Fernandes, Maina villager Shashikala Devidas, Akki’s body guard Robert Pinto, Selesian middle aged priest from Don Bosco Sulcorna Fr. Mathias D’Cunha, 34 year old Karush Canteenwala and myself who is researching on mining theme and also offering solidarity to mining affected communities across Goa since 2001.

Then outside the police station I noticed entire group that had inflicted violence on us gathered. One young men even raised his hand in anger to signal that I would be getting more pasting from him and the gathered crowd. And the chief administrator of violence Subash Phaldessai, Balli Zilla Parishad member was there at the Police station with changed clothes on. He had replaced pink shirt with white Khadi Kurta. Our names were recorded at the police station to complete the necessary formalities for our arrest. We were then urged to take bail by some ‘counsellors’. We refused to take bail application as we were not criminals. All of us refused bail.

Then around 10.45 pm we were taken to Curchorem primary health centre for medical check up. Two policemen were guarding each one of us even while were going to toilet. There at the hospital Fr. Mathias D’Cunha was separated from us and we were told that he was ill and is to be admitted to the hospital right then. Minus Fr. Mathias D’Cunha were brought back to Police station. After some time at around 11.15 pm we were taken to the residence of JMFC Judge at Quepem. There we were persuaded by Hon’ble judge to take bail. Again we refused. Cheryl told judge that she is too ashamed to ask for the bail as Goan woman committing no crime. From here our group split into two. One of three men Robert Pinto, Karush Canteenwala and myself, and second one with four women 85 year old Dora de Souza, Cheryl de Souza, Rita Fernanades and Shashikala Devidas. 8-year-old Akki Sanfansisco was not arrested. Men were told that they would be taken to Margao Judicial lock up while women were told that they would be taken to Aguada Central Jail in Sinquerim, Bardez.

Throughout our stay at Quepem police station several people came and wished us. Shridar Kamat, Adv. John Fernandes and Adv. Mario Almeida were amongst the first to be there. I also could meet people from Benaulim, Sao jose de Arial (Elsie Fernanades) coming and wishing us. Also Fr. Maverick Fernandes and Anabel Gama doing their bit to negotiate with Police. Priests from Selesian society were there to assist us as well though I do not remember any of their names. They performed various kinds of functions such as making phone calls to various concerned people and concerned authorities, informing media etc.

Press that came to Quepem police station questioned me as to what I had to say about the accusations on me put by Subash Phaldessai that I was carrying knives in my hands. I laughed at it but press was not satisfied. They asked my version. I told them that all that I was carrying in my hands was camera that was smashed into pieces by group of anti-social elements led by Subash Phaldessai. There were no knives in my hands and instead I was beaten on my face and on my chest by this group.

We men accompanied by police security of six police personnel were taken to Hospicio Margao for another medical test mandatory requirement before the entry into Judicial lock-up – we were told by Police. One form was filled by the doctor and our signatures were taken on the same. I remember when doctor asked me about my profession I answered him saying “media”. He promptly looked at my phase and asked me as to what was my crime. I told him that our crime was that we were filming protests against mining wherein 85 year old grand mother had chained herself in front of the mining company’s operations in Maina. I told him that same is the ‘crime; committed by Karush Canteenwala, a filmmaker from Pune.

Then we were taken outside Judicial Lockup to hand over to three of us to judicial custody. It was at 1.00 am by the time we were admitted to Judicial Lockup. Sleeping policemen had to get at this unearthly hour to receive three new convicts! Jailor was not around when we reached there. He was phoned and called. After he came over found himself shocked to meet three of us who even though being offered bail by the person of the rank of judge herself, we had rejected and marched our way into Jail. He warned us that this ‘foolish’ action on our part will leave bad remark on our carrier. He said as per requirements of the jail rules, we will be required to be photographed like any other criminals and all the records preserved for future. And he further warned us that this ‘foolish’ action of us is going to loose our prestige in society! Then he began asking our names and other details. At one point he started asking about our caste. Robert feigned ignorance, then Jailor explained the meaning with his personal example. He said “hanv Mahar! Meaning ‘I am SC’. Then Robert replied that he is ST. Jailor refuse to accept this and register saying that this will go to higher level, and instead registered him as ‘Sudir’! Then he asked me my caste and I feigned ignorance too. Then he remarked “I wonder how you Catholics don’t know your caste” and I looked at the register but could not notice what he actually wrote.

Our belongings, such as cash, purse, cell phones, ornaments etc were taken at the registration counter. They were put in the small box and we were told that they will be given back while we leave Judicial Lockup as per law. I did not have any major belongings as most of my belongings were confiscated by the violent group in Maina itself. All that I had in my possession was watch on my wrist and mobile phone that I was told to switch off as soon as I entered the Judicial Lockup.

We were asked if we had our dinner. We honestly did not have our dinner not even our lunch for that matter. We were living on few bananas and samousas given to us at police station by friends that came to meet us. It was 1.45 am by the time the formalities of our entry into Judicial Lockup got over. Jailor asked us if some money had. Robert Pinto had some extra change as he had exchanged few dollars before finding his way with us so he gave Rs. 150/- to the policemen who promised to look out for food in Margao at such an unearthly hour. We then were led into a short narrow lane and asked to pick up our beddings. We picked up. Then we were shown way to our place inside Judicial Lockup. One huge policeman opened big lock and let three of us in a space around 50 meters attached with Television and Toilet. As the iron door opened most of the sleeping jail birds got up to see who these new entrants to their species were. Those who woke up we went and shook hands and introduced ourselves and they told us their names as we did. As we were having mid-night introduction with our fellow jail mates’ policeman came with three packets of food for us. One Vegetable fried rice, One Chicken fried rice and one egg fried rice. Robert and Karush did not eat anything. Only I ate little bit of Egg fried rice. To those of us who were fed up with shifting of our green mountains to China was served Chinese food in the wee hours of the morning of October 12 2008. Just then one of the cell mates shouted at everyone to sleep and everyone covered their faces.

After three hours there was loud noise outside the cell and all our prison colleagues got up fast. They told us to get up too. We got up not knowing what is going to happen. They someone told us to sit with them in 3 rows and it were 4 am in the morning and it is time for ‘Ginti’. Soon three policemen including one armed entered our cell and began ‘Ginti’ meaning counting to make sure that none of the convicts has escaped in the middle of the night. Then at 5.am it is time for breakfast. We were given cups and plates before entering the prison and these cups were used for early morning breakfast. One cup milked tea and two breads is what the breakfast is all about. Though I suffer from high acidity I still took tea and finished both the bread s I was feeling hungry. After breakfast we went to sleep again.

Prison inmates are highly organised lot. Self organisation has taken deep roots in the cell in which 3 of us were put up in. One inmate ordered Karush to sweep the floor ad clean the toilet. In all the humility Karush did this. Later on while chatting informally with my criminal colleagues did I realize the secret behind such a clean prison cell. The cell was so clean that it was fit to host any meeting of civil society gatherings. Duties are well specified as to who will clean and do other duties on which day if new entrants do not come. In case new entrants like we 3 come then what is going to be our responsibility towards prison upkeep etc. I came to know that every new entrant that comes will have to do cleaning job everyday for three consecutive days. After this prison seniors take turn to clean everyday. It is this way that they are keeping their cell so clean. Its cleanliness truly bowled me over! In the afternoon when Karush was again asked to sweep, I went up to him and took his broom away and cleaned the prison cell myself. Joy of this activity lied in the fact that your own fellow prisoner is telling you to do this and not the policemen.

In the afternoon we were served lunch - a decent meal I must say – Fish, curry, rice and some vegetable. We had our first full-fledged meal inside the lock up. Throughout the day FM radio as well as television was on with Doordhashan and its news channel as the only two options. Remote lies with the jail staff and prison inmates get it on request. All male cell occasionally comes alive when female actress would make appearance on the screen. Then TV sounds comes alive and FM radio music is switched off in rudimentary style of connecting and disconnecting wires manually across the wall - to listen to the female voice. Female actresses on doordarshan are the only females that make their presence felt on the prisoners’ psyche inside the prison lock up. Otherwise female contacts are highly restricted – as good as banned – unless some female relatives come to visit prisoners in the lockup.

We encountered people inside of various shades and characters. One of them looked sickly – his legs has grown so very frail - but kept himself active. Didn’t have real heart to ask what the crime that they committed. One of the prisoners was very articulate and said he was in Jail because of Murder. There were few more because of this deadly crime in jail as well. There was one case wherein Police found him sleeping on the Margao railway platform, he was picked up and was loitering inside the lock up for the past six months or so. Police and law have been absolutely unfair towards migrants from other states in India. Migrants are just picked up and brought to Jail. Jails have to remain fully populated – perhaps! There was another middle aged man Anton from Quepem also in my cell, don’t remember why he was there. And news of our entry into Judicial Lockup spread into other cells too. Few prisoners came and met us and inquired about our crime and they were confused whey we told our story. One young boy from Calangute serving his 26 month jail term for kidnapping and murder of a businessman came and inquired about us. He was fair with fluent English language on his tongue. I asked him about his journey to jail and he with benefit of hindsight regretted what he did in collaboration with his friends and now convinced that he has to be there till his jail term gets over. I don’t remember his name – perhaps Ryan Pinto – he was pretty knowledgeable about mining industry and I was impressed with his knowledge. He told me Dinar Tarcar is not a big mining magnet but he is on the verge of making it big.

But there were quite few inside almost all the prison inmates treated us very well - almost like their family members – guiding us through ways of prison. And so the jail staffs was kind to us never committing any excesses or beating up that I had heard and read about over the past few years. Overall behaviour of Police at Margao Judicial Lock up was cordial and co-operative towards us. We are thankful to each one of them. We are also thankful also to each of our fellow prisoners for all their warmth, support and guidance on prison ways. The chief jailor told us that this is the first time in his life as a Jailor he has some creatures that has refused bail and forced their way inside the prison. He tried to break the code as to why we were in but he could not. Finally he concluded that we are bunch of fools that he does not have to waste his precious energy thinking about. But I am sure he kept thinking of us!

On 12 October we had quite a few visitors – Adv. Jatin Naik, Durgadas Gaonkar, Dr. Dumo, Dr. Bikram Dasgupta, Floriano Lobo, Fr. Bismarck, Adv.John Cardozo, Adv. John Fernandes, Sandeep Azrekar etc. They came with good wishes and few suggestions. Also planned our release from the Jail by taking few signatures on formats was best understood by my lawyer friends.

After lunch we slept but my fellow prisoners were engaging in all kinds of pastimes. Group of four had got themselves as players to play carom. There is a Carom board inside the prison cell. This carom board is placed on reversed bucket which then serves as an elevator for the Board to play. Other engage themselves in physical exercises of various kinds like one guy was standing on his hands with legs pointing towards the sky that you cannot see from the prison. Other guy indulging in push ups and still other guys taking stroll in ten meter long prison cell. Privacy is absent. It is possible only when you enter toilet inside the cell. And this toilet is kept absolutely clean. Few of them invited us to play Carom with them. Unfortunately two of us my self and Karush are not at Carom as much as we are on our threatened video cameras, so we did not join the play team. Robert Pinto joined the play party. This gesture from the prisoners made us feel at home. It sent our tensions high in the air. And just when Robert playing there was call from the cops on duty some visitor for me – I went out to see my Goa Su-Raj Party President Dr. Sinai Dumo and Secretary Floriano Lobo – then I requested them also to call out Karush and Robert so that I could introduce them to my Party leader. The introduction was done inside the Margao Judicial Lock up. Few new introductions happened here. Few discussions took off here. And judicial lockup was now transformed into university classroom with lessons of its own. Floriano gave me the copies of few postings he did on goanet in my support. One was when BSNL and other State intelligence agencies in unauthorised manner were collaborating to tap my phone calls to Rama Velip in Colamb, Sanguem. My cell phone by the way is tapped quite often and I am aware of it every time it is done! And the second one was press statement condemning my arrest by Goa Police while protesting against mining in Maina.

Just as both of them left after few minutes of discussions and support to us. We went inside our cell guided by the Police on duty. However soon Karush and I discovered Robert was missing. We contemplated various things as to what could have happened to Robert. Why he did not join us back to the prison cell. Is he being separated to harass and torture? Or could the police be asking some money from his collection of cash? Several thoughts crossed our minds. Karush then went into Toilet to answer nature’s call – both the number one and two. I found Karush suddenly relaxed as he moved out of the toilet. Just before he could move out Policeman opened the gate of our cell and let Robert in. I went towards him and asked him as to why he was held back by Police what went wrong. Robert surprised me: he told me that he was worried too when he was asked to wait alone there. But police told him that he had a visitor and visitor was his wife. Most of us arrested we had informed our families about our new status in struggle. Robert fearing panic at his family back at Parra, Bardez refrained from informing his wife. However his intention to keep his arrest as secret became headlines on October 12, 2008 newspapers and Robert’s name was mentioned as one of the arrested activists. There you are – Robert got transformed by media as activist overnight with receipt of the blows on his body by the gang led by Subash Phaldessai and colluded so aptly in all this by PI Santosh Dessai. His wife came to know about her beloved husband and came searching him all the way to Margao judicial lock up. By the way searching us was not an easy thing to do. Lot of people knew that were at Quepem Police station. Quepem Police station would not tell correct information till you probe them deep.

It was around 4 pm in the afternoon on October 12 and we again head loud sound outside the prison cell. Everybody got up with lightening speed. Covered their beddings and came and sat in the middle again in three rows. I knew it was ‘Ginti’ – counting time again. Three cops entered the cell one with riffle to shoot in case any of us try to escape by overpowering jail stuff – I was told something like this happened and some prisoners escaped and ever since jail administration had tightened itself – one of the cops commented on us “those three guys are new entrants” another one replied “Yes. They were brought here during last mid night because they refused bail. They are from Save Goa.” I realized amongst cops we had identity. We were from “Save Goa”. One particular policeman who was driving our jeep advised me at least 25 times to take bail and continue the movement from outside. “You cannot do movement from outside.” He kept repeating as I smelled he was little drunk but well within control to drive police jeep. There was another cop who came from Quepem Police station accompanying us to Margao in the middle of October 11 midnight that was curious about Karush as to why he has come all the way from Pune to Maina, Quepem to offer solidarity and film protest. Karush got in with lengthy discussion with cop on how mining is fining up Goa and its water sources and why people of Goa must got up and revolt against mining. Cop was even more curious know further stuff but time in Jail so regimented that you really have to move on all the time. Karush gave the cop blog id http://www.mandgoa.blogspot.com/ for his further reference. Cop was thankful to Karush and said he is going to go and refer to the blog right away during mid-night. Even cops, their families and even Police stations as well as judicial lockup and Aguada jail is what is going to be severely affected with water shortages if we do not ground menacing mining trade in Goa. 86% of Goa’s population is under mining threat according to 2008 National best teacher’s awardee Ramesh Gauns.

It must be around 6.pm – I could hardly know correct timings inside prison cell in the absence of clock inside – when dinner was served on October 12 2008. Everyone got their dinner and covered it with days newspapers that carried news about protests in Maina and our arrests. We showed the news to all the interested prisoners. They read it with interest but could not gaze as to how much they understood as there was no occasion to discuss it the topic any further as three of us thinking of getting out of jail. Warm food enticed me and I took my dinner at 6 pm itself. I and Karush took our dinner together. Robert covered his food with newspapers for the late night. After our dinner we were relaxing as one of the room mates invited me to play with him. “Will you play Ludo with me?” I said “sure!” he went on to get Ludo board but could not find it anywhere. His inquiries found that it has been passed on into the neighbouring prison cell. So that was end of our play opportunities inside the lock up.

Then I came to my temporary place inside the prison that was very close to the door and lied down. Few prisoners started making signals towards me to make proper organised beddings for myself. I was not apt at all and struggled for a while. Then one of the prisoners Casim got up and came to me, took possession of my beddings and began wonderful folding that created warm cushion under my back. I was surprised to see the way he connected pieces of clothes in his hands and prepared fabulous bedding. I was very happy at his gestures. All other prisoners gave him supportive looks at his feat of helping me. I was now with proper bedding. I was now fully part of Prisoner camaraderie in Jail. Didn’t knew how fellow prisoners would take it if I thank them loudly, vocally, I gestured in my expressing my gratitude of bedding. It was not just bedding that was grateful to the prisoners about. It was the way the entire group has developed adaptability to new comers but also ability to make them feel at home, teach them quickly the ways of jail and befriend them with actions.

I remember when our dinner were being served were with visitors and our jail mates washed our plates, and received food on our behalf and kept it covered, kept it warm. I realized for the first time that humanity exists even inside prison cell and do have love and warmth to share in spite of all the crimes of various kinds we might have committed or accused of being committed.

After another hour or so around 7.30 pm Policeman came calling 3 of us again and told us that someone has come to restore our freedom away from Margao Judicial Lock up. We shook hands with each other, and then shook hands with every fellow prisoner, thanked them for all that they have been to us for the past 20 hours. Policeman was waiting at the door and messenger of freedom was little away. It was Sunday and we were being released on bail. Sunday is most difficult day to get bail and efforts of some friends of us had attained the impossible in the police terminology.

Jailor was around with our lawyer friend and several other policemen. We signed some documents and our possessions were returned back to us. I got back my cell phone and also my watch. Robert and Karush got back their belongings as well. We were free by 7.45pm and then went straight to Aguada jail to free 85-year-old lady Dora de Souza, Cheryl de Souza Sanfransisco, Shashikala Devidas and Rita Fernandes. As soon as we landed at Aguada jail we were greeting by police men on duty. We were told that Old lady has been throwing tantrums inside the jail and demanding Milk as her food. Then authorities took her out most part of the night into hospitals and now van was about to come to take her to Goa Medical College, Bambolim. Ambulance has been called with the wireless message. “And the old lady abused us policemen, she called us dogs. It was very humiliating for us. We do our duty and we are getting treatment like this. This is not fair.” We just nodded our heads while policeman was speaking so much about the old lady. I understood that Aguada’s Central jail was badly affected with old lady in it. Lady attended was sent in to get four arrested women out. Even though she went and came quickly out she had so much to tell about the Old lady. “Prison is not for the people like her. At 1.30 am Old land forced prison authorities to put her on phone as she has to speak to Fr. Mathias D’Cunha and complained about bad condition of jail.” I understood the tension very well. I tried to make phone call from Margao Judicial lock up and I was told that it is against law to make phone calls from the Prison. The old lady had not only violated laws in Maina by trespassing, rioting and unlawful assembly, she has again violated prison laws by forcing herself into making call to Fr. Mathias D’Cunha at Curchorem Primary Health Centre under arrest; hospitalized due to supposedly low blood pressure. The entire narration about the Old lady was concluding perhaps that she is a chronic violator of law and deserves to be life member of Central jail in Aguada.

And then three ladies climbed up the steps from the way so close to Arabian Sea shore. Old lady was missing. I gathered that she was in position to climb the road to Calvary and she is resting below on the exit way. Then we came out of gates and spend few minutes sharing our experiences. “You know one woman was screaming in the night. None of us could sleep. These are the women who had committed murders – mostly of their husbands; one murdered her daughter’s rapist. 26 of them and we were four of us. I swear they are half mad hard core criminals and old lady was scandalized to hear so many of them so casually speaking about murdering their husbands. But I’ll tell you they understood our concerns. They became my friends. They understand mining is ruining Goa and we must fight.” This is what Cheryl first said when she first came out of Aguada Central Jail.

This has been the voyage from Maina mining protests to getting beaten up by mining mafia to getting arrested to our refusal to take bail to our entry into prisons and then back to freedom again. I personally feel glad that I have been able to play my tiny role in offering my support to ladies – old and young – all out to defend Goa from mining loot. If our prison entries are going resolve Goa’s looming water crisis then at least I am will to march into the jail again and again without any heed to my prestige and respect. For me water – the source of very life on earth - takes priority over my personal prestige and respect. First time I entered Jail on the October 11 2008 mid-night at Judicial lockup Margao, I remembered and whispered in Karush’s ears “You know Karush Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 long years that too most part in Solitary confinement for his fight against Apartheid in South Africa. He is one of my inspirations in struggle”. Of course the course of my actions from here remained forever changed.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Goa's draft Mineral Policy fails to understand mining

To,
The Director,
Directorate of Mines and Geology,
Udyog Bhavan,
Panaji, Goa.

21.10.2008

Sub: Comments/Objection on Draft Mineral Policy 2008– Goa


Sir as per notification of Draft Mineral Policy – Goa published in Official Gazette series I No. 21 21st August 2008 we wish to state the following:

Introduction of the Policy reads as “In order to facilitate planned and systematic exploitation of mineral resources in a sustainable manner, a mineral policy for Goa is being formulated.”

Mining of major minerals is governed through central legislations namely The Mines and Minerals (Regulations and Development) Act, 1957 and The Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988 that are already ensuring that Minerals can be exploited as long as they become uneconomical. In fact “Abandonment of mine - means final closure of a mine either whole or part thereof when the mineral deposits within mine or part thereof, have been fully extracted or when the mining operations have become uneconomical” [Section (3) (a) of The Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988]. Sustainability has no PLACE in both these legislations and Goa’s Mineral Policy. Also doesn’t stand on specific criteria/definition for “sustainability. ’
Even with existence of MCDR 1988 Rule 3[a] all the abandoned mines for twenty years are brought under operation when there was demand from China for low grade that was “uneconomical” proving the economical term contextual and subjective. Therefore sustainability without precise definition and aptly providing regulatory cover cannot serve the purpose of formulating the policy. So for want of the credibility this policy should not be allowed to be operational, instead it should be scrapped.

Further para2 of the Introduction states “Mining industry in Goa has contributed immensely to the economic development of the state ……’’

This statement is baseless and false as the data / facts and figures in Economic Survey of 2006-07, nowhere substantiate the claim in the draft .On contrary its state contribution of Mining industry to Goas SDP to be 4.41p.c.which is below the contribution from agriculture. The economic survey also shows that state got only 1 p.c.of the ore value exported. The Royalty the state got in the yr 2002-03-Rs 15crores, 2003-04Rs18crores and 2004-05Rs17crores even when price of the ore shoot of from US $ 17 to around US $ 200 per tonne.

Again it is interesting to note to disprove government claim of mining has contributed immensely to the economic development of the state. When the public debt of the state in 2003 is 2141.10 crores the value of the ore is 4645.7 crores, 2004 public debt is 2615.17 & the value of the ore exported is 6117.4575 crores, in the year 2005 the public debt is 3088.67 crores where as the value of the ore exported is 17719.8 crores. (Value based on the existing rates)

The government has no data on the assessment of economic loss due to the impact of mining on:-
a) Paddy cultivation.
b) Arecanut cultivation ( kulagar)
c) Dairy.
d) Destruction of natural water bodies.
e) Destruction of forest.
f) Health hazards.
g) Depletion of the fertility there by compelling the farmers to increase the doses of chemical fertilizers to maintain the yield.
h) The expenses incurred everyday for washing of the filter beds at opa water projects which gets choked due to mining rejects.
i) The loss in terms of the destruction of perennial surface water bodies & ground water.
The government till today has no data whatsoever to this effect therefore the approach to the draft mineral policy is totally unscientific and cannot be justified pertaining to the claims of economic development in the context of mining industry. Therefore the draft policy is unscientific and therefore should be scrap.

The draft is very superficial and casual on environment al degradation which is proved by the statement “…. has also caused certain environmental degradation.” The mining has been in Goa for more then five decades. There is also different report on amount of environmental degradation which has caused serious irreversible impact on different vital components of the environment including perennial water bodies.

The draft policy has failed to refer to the following:-
1 Report prepared by Tata Energy Research Institute in 1997 sponsored by the state it self.
2 Reports / studies / data from the scientists of NIO Goa.
3 IBM‘s report on availability of waste / rejection.
4 Recent booked published by Goa Foundation – Sweet Land of Mines.
5 Rich land and Poor people booked published by centre for science for environment New Delhi.
6 Report of the house committee of March 2000 which categorically mention how mining has destroyed means of livelihood, water bodies etc.

Therefore it is clearly visible that this draft is prepared without any data information which exists. Hence it should be scrapped.

The statement in the same para “it is therefore imperative to achieve the best use of available mineral resources through scientific methods of mining, beneficiation and optimum utilization.” The statement brings out to a conclusion that all the mines operating as on today in Goa are not following:
1 Scientific methods of mining.
2 No Scientific methods of beneficiation.
3 No scientific methods being employed by the mining companies for optimum utilization.

Therefore the view of above and also to justify the objective of the draft mineral policy the State Govt. has to go for the closure of all the mines with immediate effect to prove that the state is impartial.

BACKGROUND (comment)

The minerals from Goa have never been “capital assets of the nation and the major source for development because the ore from Goa is 100% export oriented. If at all Goa’s ore serve the purpose of development, it is only for other countries and not our nation. Post 2003 till 2008 scenario reveals that Goa’s mineral have served to strengthen the economic of china and never catered to the needs of countries iron and steel industries. Secondly it has only allowed the mine owners to increase their profits from millions to billions.
There can be either mines or no mines. There is no mining as sustainable mining. The point is already discussed in the earlier parts.

GOA

The draft mineral policy has utterly failed to understand mining in Goa in a comprehensive manner only because of not employing scientific approach. The geographical area of Goa is 3702 sq.km. Which is 0.11% or 888 times smaller then the geographical area of the country. Yet it contributes 39% of the ore to the countries total iron ore production. At what cost? The north to south stretch is 105km and the mining belt covers 95 km. The mining belt stretching in this 95 km from north to south covers the plateau region which is adjacent to Sahyadri watershed. As per the objective of the policy all the mining areas already identified and yet to be identified will be operated for exploitation of ore. This virtually means that entire plateau region will be subjected to destruction. As on today there are exclusively 15 Perenial River bodies including mandovi originates form the Western Ghats and flow down through the plateau region.

This means that these entire perennial rivers will be destroyed for the sake of minerals. It has to be noted seriously that two of the water projects which are endangered due to the mining activities, Opa network and Salaulim network catering to the needs of 85% of the Goa’s total population, consuming 73% of total water consumed by entire Goa.

In the economic survey of 2006 and 2007 the tourism department has cautioned the Govt., “… the Govt. taps are running dry to cater to the needs of Tourism Industry, so it has suggested “…. Commissioning of the Tillari project at the earliest”

This statement is good enough to prove that Goa will have to depend on neighbouring states for the need of drinking water facilities to make the survival of not only the Tourism Industry but also the people of Goa.

The draft mineral policy has seriously failed to understand this problem and also to address the same only because the state wants to pursue and bless the mining industries for the reasons better known to the Govt. therefore the lack of transparency in the intentions of the Govt. the policy should be scrapped.

It is prove that the mandovi and Zuari Rivers including Kumbharjua canal have been key factor maintaining economic viability of Goan mining. But it is exclusively for the sake of profits of mine owners and not for the interest of the state.

The fact about the mandovi is that it has more than 1580 sq.km. of catchment area drains from 43500 ha. Of forest land with 27 large mines operating and dumping reject into the river on an average 270 tonnes per day per mine same is the case with Zuari with the catchment area of 55000ha. And 10 mines operating dumping rejects on an average 333 tonnes per day per mine. The status of the two river is therefore clearly revealed indication how ruthless hazardous the mining activity are for the environment in Goa.

MINES AUDIT

The draft policy shows the clear ignorance of matters of mines the three aspects of under this title.
a) Risk assessment
b) Safety
c) Environment management
All this comes under the jurisdiction of Central Govt. through IBM. The process involved is as follows
a) IBM has to approved EIA & EMP including mining plan prepared by the mining companies.
b) EIA’s are to be prepared based on the TOR set by the Expert Appraisal Committee (Central Govt.) which also includes environment management plans.
All the above things are guided by the notification issued by the Central Govt. through its agencies – MOEF N.Delhi. The State Govt. has no role to play. Therefore mine audit shall have to over right the jurisdiction of the Central Govt. to comply the statements made there in. this lack of knowledge does not provide any authentication to the draft mineral policy hence its needs to be scrapped. The draft mineral policy has again failed to highlight the environmental clearances which are obtain by the mine owner from the MOEF n. Delhi through the public consultation based on the false and fabricated document prepared by agencies and sponsored by the mine owner with the sole objective of getting EC very easily to get the mines under operations. The State Govt. doesn’t have any of the mechanism spelt in the draft policy to monitor / regulate / check the processes / procedure therefore this mineral draft policy cannot attain any status also should be scrapped.

It is also to be noted how the policy draft is contradicting its own points, page 720 of the notification under working of mining leases and prospecting licenses “…. No prospecting leases should be allowed for the time being.” Where as page 721 states “…. Prospecting licences stroke mining lease shall not be granted in areas considered sensitive on the basis of following criteria:-
a) “Areas which can cause serious erosion problem, prone to land slides and damage hill slopes, wet lands etc.

It is a confusion of the policy this policy does not no that all mining in Goa are on the hills and hill slope so the criteria suggest that there can be no mining in Goa. the criteria suggested has not mention very important aspect i.e. the mining leases which has proximately to perennial water bodies like rivers , lakes etc. hence it is a lop sided policy which needs to be scrapped.

OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES OF MINERAL POLCY 2008 (comment)

Out of 16 objectives mention 11 are very casual and shall never be complied with because of they have no scientific approach .most of them are elaborately figuring out in “Mines and Minerals Laws” the State Govt. in spite of that, has failed to execute any of the rules and Acts. The point no.14 which is to encourage cluster approach is a dangers trends – a draconian provision to favour the mine owners. this objectives cannot with stands in the lights of the notifications from the Central Govt. though which EC are obtain EC’s are either accorded on the basis of individual mines or the mines with contiguous nature owned by one lease holder. This provision is incorporated to facilitate the mine owner to evade the mandatory forest clearance. For e.g. in cluster if two mining leases have forest cover and others do not have the application of the cluster theory ultimately will benefit to get rid of the forest clearance for first two mines, which otherwise would have experienced a legal blocked for their mining operations.

Iron manganese bauxites which are found in Goa are the major minerals hence come under the jurisdiction of Central Govt. therefore the Rules and Acts related to these minerals are made enacted by the Central Govt. in the parliament. The State Govt. has the Jurisdiction over the minor minerals. Therefore the question is whether the State Govt. can decide on making a mineral policy encompassing major minerals?

Lastly, it is also seen that the entire policy doesn’t speak any thing about the people and there residential area including their traditional sources of livelihood in context of encouraging minerals development i.e. the mining Industries.

Therefore the draft mineral policy should out rightly be scrapped.

Sd/-
(RAMESH S. GAUNS)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Goa Mineral Policy is Goa's Ecocide

To,

The Director,
Directorate of Mines and Geology,
Udyog Bhavan,
Panaji, Goa. 403 001

20th October 2008

Sub: Comments/Objection on Draft Mineral Policy – Goa

Sir as per notification of Draft Mineral Policy – Goa published in Official Gazzette series I No. 21 21st August 2008 we wish to state the following:

Introduction of the Policy reads as “ In order to facilitate planned and systematic exploitation of mineral resources in a sustainable manner, a mineral policy for Goa is being formulated.”

Mining trade is governed through central legislations namely Mines and Minerals (Regulations and Development) Act, 1957 and The Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988 that are already ensuring that Minerals can be exploited as long as they become uneconomical. In fact “Abandonment of mine - means final closure of a mine either whole or part thereof when the mineral deposits within mine or part thereof, have been fully extracted or when the mining operations have become uneconomical” [Section (3) (a) of The Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988]. Sustainability has no criteria in both these legislations that will override Goa’s Mineral Policy.

All the abandoned mines for over 20 years are brought under operation when there was demand from China even for a low grade ore that was earlier uneconomical.

No mine in Goa complies with special conditions in Environmental Clearance order accorded by Ministry of Environment and Forest. Violations of Water Act, 1974 and Air Act 1981 are open and consistent. None of the responsible government authorities such as Goa Pollution Control Board, Department of Mines & Geology, Conservator of Forest and Wild life; Central Authorities such as Indian Bureau of Mines, Director General of Mines and Safety are executing their powers to curb these violations.

Illegal mining is still in continuation and which was brought to the notice of State Government yet government failed to check illegal mining activities.


Therefore draft Mineral policy is just an eye wash and therefore it is to be scrapped. In the context of above mentioned things this draft Mineral Policy must be scrapped with immediate effect. Instead the State government has to go severely against the mining activities with the existing rules, laws, acts and in particular Section 23(c) of The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 empowers State Government to make rules for preventing illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals as per. Goa Government is doing nothing on this.

State government for the wellbeing and hazardous mining activities which in no way an economic backbone or generates revenues for the socio-economic development of the State, The State government has to stick to the Mineral Concessions Rules 1960 for the appropriate actions. According to this law, power to terminate the mining leases lies with the State Government and Goa Government is not invoking the same.

State government must make list of all the mining leases which was not operated consecutively for two years and more be publicly listed and terminated for sustainability of mineral resources.

The sustainable mining is therefore a myth. No mining can be sustainable. Mining is undesirable activity that needs to be stopped in Goa once and for all. We need policy to ensure that mining – particularly open cast iron ore, manganese and bauxite mines all over Goa are closed down as it has proved to be source of ecocide for Goa and its people.


Sd/-
Sebastian Rodrigues
Convenor
Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FOMENTOS MINING UNDER POLICE PROTECTION AT COLAMB

Fomentos are carrying on mining activities, but under private and police protection in Colamb, T.C No. 06/1949.

Despite the entire village againt it, Fomentos' mining continues...

GOAMAP condemns violence on protestors in Maina, Quepem

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People GOAMAP strongly condemns violence inflicted on the people protesting against disastrous open cast mining industry in Maina, Quepem, Goa on October 11, 2008. Peacefully protesting people in front of the gate of mine operated by Dinar Tarcar of Panjim were violently charged at by the hooligans led by Balli Zilla Parishad member Subhas Phal Dessai in the presence of Goa police team led by Quepem Police Inspector Santosh Dessai at 3.10 pm.

It is well known fact that mining industry has grown to be Goa’s prime enemy with legal sanctity from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) with liberal granting of Environmental Clearances.

85 year old Dora de Souza, Cheryl de Souza, Rita Fernandes, Shashikala Devidas, Robert Pinto, Kurush Canteenwala, Fr. Mathias D’Cunha and Sebastian Rodrigues were arrested by Quepem Police.

Before the arrests they were allowed to be beaten up by the group of people working under direction of Balli Zilla Parishad Member Subhas Phaldessai and contractor Ashok Naik.

GOAMAP demands:

1. Immediate withdrawal of false cases filed against Dora de Souza, Cheryl de Souza, Rita Fernandes, Shashikala Devidas, Robert Pinto, Kurush Canteenwala, Fr. Mathias D’Cunha and Sebastian Rodrigues.
2. Immediate suspension of PI Santos Dessai attached to Quepem police station for collaborating with group indulging in violence led by Subhas and Ashok.
3. Judicial inquiry into the conduct of the police on October 11 2008 in Maina, Quepem.
4. Stop to mining activities – both legal as well as illegal across the State of Goa as it is threatening life support systems including water sources in Goa.

GOAMAP also supports the demands on mining put forward to Chief Minister by Ganv Ghor Rakhan Manch (GGRM) in its memorandum on October 06, 2008.


Sd/-
Sebastian Rodrigues
Convenor

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maina protestors released

Friends,

All protestors resisting mining at Maina have been released on bail on the night of 12th October.

We condemn the behaviour of Zila Parishad member Subhash Phaldessai and others, who instigated unprovoked violence on 11th October, when activists were opposing mining in a peaceful way by chaining themselves and blocking roads.

We demand suspension and PI Santosh Desai and an enquiry against him for he and his personnel were quiet witneesses to excesses by criminal elements.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

PRESS STATEMENT by South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)

PRESS STATEMENT by South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)
South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED), Delhi, condemns the arrest of eight anti-mining activists on 11th October who were booked under offences for unlawful assembly, trespassing and criminal intimidation. This, when they were peacefully protesting and showing solidarity with Cheryl D'Souza San Fransisco at Maina Village.

Protestors include Cheryl's eight year-old daughter Akki and her eighty five year-old mother Dora, all of who chained themselves to block roads to stop 200 mining trucks from making way into their area yesterday morning. Other protestors who joined them in solidarity include environmentalists Sebastian Rodrigues of MandGoa Adivasi Resource Center, film-maker Kurush Canteenwala, Rita Fernandes and Sashikala Devidas.

Eyewitness accounts state that despite police presence, protestors (many wearing chains voluntarily as a mark of protest) were brutally beaten up and had their cameras smashed by mafia goons to destabilize and discourage anti-mining protests from local villagers. Interestingly, on an earlier occasion, Goa's Chief Minister had told Cheryl that he could 'do nothing' about miners' encroachment into her area.

The police, instead of reacting in a pro-citizen manner and arresting the real perpetrators of violence, arrested the peacefully protesting women and environmentalists, who are still lodged in Margao and Aguada prisons. Dora, Cheryl's old mother, has been sent back to prison today after treatment at GMC and Candolim's PHC.

After refusing to register cases against mafia goons yesterday, today, however, the police relented to register cases against them, although related paper-work will end only by evening. A delegation representing protestors is currently negotiating with police and trying to secure justice due to them.

Yesterday's events reflect a direct attack on peoples' voices and freedom to protest against injustice. We appeal to all media persons to write extensively about this injustice being done to Cheryl and her family and help her fight for justice.

CHERYL'S STORY

Lonely Women Arrested for Protesting Against Powerful Miners of South Goa
Still say 'We will not leave our farmland'

Photos by Shaweta

Sitting near late Anthony San Francisco's grave Cheryl D'Souza recounts the time when she and her late husband came to settle in Maina Village, the dreams they built around it and how they built the foundations of the house, and farm in the area. "Those were the times his pet kite- Moses-would sit on his shoulder and eat peanuts from his hand," she reminsced. After her husband's death, the bird flew into a moving fan and got one of its wings chopped but somehow continues to live on today, force-fed though.



"We used to fall asleep in a hammock tied there so easily before, without fearing anything or anyone" says Cheryl while remembering good-old times with her husband.


Our thoughts suddenly got disrupted when a car zoomed past with a child gently waving at us from one window while her bodyguard drove her to school cautiously. Unfortunately, the situation in Maina has become so tense and insecure today that Cheryl is scared not only for her daughter's safety but also for her mother's deteriorating health condition. With regular threats, and circling of mining company jeeps in and around the house, she believes anything could happen to them.


After protesting against mining in their vicinity for threats to person or environmental damage, today, Cheryl D'Souza, her eighty-five year old mother Dora D'Souza, and her eight-year old daughter Akki D'Souza are languishing in police custody at Aguada police station.

The lady was offered monetary incentives by mining authorities earlier to give up her land, but she had refused all offers vehemently. 'I knew this land was rich in ore when I bought it,' she says, adding, 'had I wanted to start mining here, I would have done so in 1992 itself. I wasn't greedy for money then and I am not greedy for money now.' Her resistances however have not gone down too well with local mafias, politicians and mine owners. There have been regular threats including being threatened by trucks and mining jeeps while traveling out in private vehicles on the road, and regular threats to her daughter, Akki, especially when she goes to school.
Beisdes all of this, the Government of Goa had built a canal in Cheryl's backyard to channel spring water into the village few years back. However, the current location of mines is such that it is bound to pollute this drinking water source, which will not only affect her but all the other villagers in and around Maina.

'Can we fight alone' asks Dora D' Souza, her mother, who shares how a freedom fighter in the neighbouring village refused to budge from the area initailly. But when mining companies started digging next to his house, he couldn't resist pollution, noise and dust produced and was thus forced to move.

What do people's representatives have to say in Goa? Cheryl visited Digambar Kamat, present CM of Goa, who could not promise her anything substantial, almost as if his hands were tied. Helpless, Cheryl's mother said that she will chain herself to their cars and protest on the road demanding all mining activities be stopped in Maina.

Villagers from Colamb, Cowrem and Maina supported her during yesterday's protest demo as a result of which 200 trucks were prevented from going out of the area yesterday. However, in an ugly turn of events, the contractors and truck drivers attacked and damaged cameras of supporting environmental activist Sebastian Rodrigues and film-maker Kurush Canteenwala from Pune. The Police only watched the drama and arrested eight protestors including Cheryl and her family.

One wonders how Tarcar Mines got Environmental Clearance in the area, which is a green forested zone, and mining would mean devastating changes for ecological balance. Most people survive on agricultural livelihoods here. In fact cashew and coconut plantation is a thriving agricultural option for the middle class and small farmers of the village. Mining therefore has proven to be an extractive process, benefiting none of the locals.

Resistances have continued in adjoining Colamb village since last few years against Formento mines that were releasing waste waters into drinking water sources and fields, destroying crops in the area. Colamb villagers successfully pressurized them and managed to issue a show cause notice to stop mining in the area, which was hampering all usual activities. However in Colamb too, people are being regularly harassed by mining companies that make repeated complaints for arrest of activists by police.


Activists across the country are demanding the release of Cheryl's family and immediate stopping of all mining at Maina, legal or illegal.

The article was written after an exclusive interview with Cheryl some days before her arrest on 11th October 2008 for protesting against encroachment on her land by miners.

Friends,

As per reports received at 12: 15pm, though still in custody, Dora has been moved to Goa Medical Center (GMC) on health grounds. She has Lisa Noronha (from the police) on her side.

Father Mathais has been admitted to hospital for low BP. This was the latest on this front.

No newspaper seems to have carried anything on the ten arrests today...which is a very sad development. Maximum people should express support when issues are larger than people...

......IN SOLIDARITY FROM ANDHRA PRADESH

Dear Sir,

The natural beauty of Goa is dear to many across the world. Climate change and its effects on agriculture and ecology are already a great cause of concern to all. It is estimated that the biological diversity might be reduced in some of the world's most fragile environments, such as mangroves and tropical forests and hence reforestation and increase in soil carbon storage are suggested.

It is hence shocking to hear that clearances have been given by your high offices for the mining activities in Maina, Cowrem and Rivona and this even though in the public hearing majority of the people had said 'no to mining'. This makes the clearance an act against the will of the people, hence undemocratic and anti people. Mining activities in the area will create a devastating impact on the ecology and livelihoods of the farmers. People in the area have been resisting against forcible evictions, release of toxic wastes into local waters and springs, release of waste water into agricultural fields which created huge losses for farmers in the past and initiating mining activities in rich buffer zones of sanctuary areas.

On behalf of all the 400 organic farmers of our organization in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh, as president of the organization and as an individual concerned about the ecology of our nation, I demand immediate halt of mining activities in the area, withdrawal of charges against the innocent activists and initiation of police action against the goons who physically assaulted them.

I also demand the immediate release of the 10 activists of Mand Adivasi Resource Centre from Quepem Police Station.

Hoping that your ecological sensitivities and responsibilities will make you undo the act of clearance of the mining activities in Goa as well as motivate you to work in solidarity with the ecologically conscious activists of Mand Adivasi Resource Centre!

In ecological solidarity,

(Ms. Asha Kachru)

Eyewitness account: Input from John Fernandes about yesterday's anti-mining protests and subsequent arrests

Quepem remain tense today over the issued of the arrest of 8 environmentalists by the Quepem police over the alleged incident of forming unlawful assembly at Cavrem on Saturday. Quepem police today arrested Sherel D'Souza, her 80 years old mother Dora D'Souza, Rita Fernandes, Robert Pinto all from Maina Cavrem, Seby Rodrigues from Siolim, Kurush Canteenwala from Pune, and father Mathew D'Cunha of Don Bosco Quepem over the charges of forming unlawful assembly, trespass and criminal intimidation.

That morning Sherel D'Souza, her mother, her 8 years-old daughter and their servant sat on a protest at Cavrem by tying their age old mother Dora D'Souza with a chain on the kacha road leading to Tarkar mine and which started at around 9.30AM. At about 10.00 AM, around 30 villagers from Colomb appeared at the spot in a bus mostly comprising ladies and joined the peaceful protest by Sherel and her family.

Environmentalists Seby Rodrigues, Father Mathias and Sherel's friend Kurush Canteenwala from Pune, who had come to Goa to make a film also came at the spot but remained on the main road leading to Pirla.

The Mine officials appeared at the spot and asked about the problem to which Sherel stated that they are protesting the destruction forest land. In the meantime, hundreds of truck drivers, who were at the mine also appeared at the spot. Speaking to reporter P.I. Santosh Dessai, he stated that the protesters were requested by him to move out from the place but they did not. Sherel D'Souza stated in her complaint filed before the Quepem police that around 3.00 Quepem police appeared at the spot . That in the presence of Quepem police they have been attacked by the mine drivers who were instigated by the contractor and the local representatives.

The Photographers namely Seby Rodrigues and Kurush Canteenwala who were present and taking snaps were attacked by the drivers. Seby Rodrigues in his complaint has stated that he has been attacked by the Z.P. Member Subhash Dessai. He also stated that the truck driver snatched his camera and bag which was carrying and damaged the Camera and the bag. Police arrested all the protester including the minor daughter of Sherel- Akki D'Souza- put them in the police jeep and brought them at the police station and booked them under different offences.

Meantime all the truck drivers and contractors appeared at the police station and the police also attached the two vehicles of Sherel D'souza. The truck driver , contractor who were present at the police made a hue that in both the vehicles of Sherel there are weapons and other dangerous substance. The police then checked the both the vehicles. That from one vehicle recovered one knife and from the diky 2 small iron roads and a broken coita while from the other vehicle police recovered a knife.

Speaking to reporters Sherel stated that the knife that was found was for her safety as she moves alone in the night and she has to pass through a hilly area to go to her house.

Meanwhile villagers from Colomb, Banaulim, Fr. Mevrick and his team, Don Bosco Officials made their presence at the police station to show their solidarity. Those arrested refuse to move any bail application. GAKUVED President Durgadas Gaonkar who had come to the police station condemned the way the police handle the situation and for arresting the innocent people.

Meanwhile police from Curchorem, Margao, and GRPF was stationed at the police station. Deputy Collector Vanancio Furtado , Dy. SP Rohidas Patre made their presence at the police station.