Friday, November 28, 2008

People-Police clash over mining transport in Ambaulim, Quepem

The Quepem remained tense on Thursday November 27, 2008 when the villagers of Copelabhat, Deao, Quepem blocked the entire mining trucks operating from Maina, Cavrem, Sulcorna ,Colomba, via Quepem. The blockade which started at 8.30 am continued till 1.00 pm.

Protesting villagers clashed with police while police tried to implement the order of the Quepem Deputy Collector Venancio Furtado to arrest the large number of villagers at Ambaulim village. Police was unsuccessful in arresting any of the villagers and Deputy Collectors orders proved impotent dished out to satisfy the mining companies - mainly Fomentos and Dinar Tarcar.

It may be recalled that the villagers of Copelabhat, Deao on 7/11/2008 filed a complaint before the Collector of South Goa copy of which was forwarded to the Directorate of Mines, Dy-Collector of Quepem, Executive Magistrate of Quepem, S.P. South Goa , Dy-S.P. Quepem, Directorate of Transport, P.I. Quepem, Assistant Director of Transport Quepem. The villagers also on 24/11/2008 issued to reminder to the collector.

The villagers of Copelabhat in their Complaint stated that they are facing lot of health problems due to the transportation of mining ore from their village. They also stated in their complaint that all the mining trucks transporting the ore are not following the guideline issued by the Director of Transport vide its notification dated 15/12/08.

The complaint further states that as the mining truck are loaded above the body level which results in spillage of ore on the road thereby causing dust pollution.

Speaking to press villagers stated that all the authorities failed to act on their complaint they are forced take the law into their hand forcing the mining truck to stop from operating. The blockade which was started at around 8.30 am and continued till 1.00 pm as a result around 260 trucks were line up at a distance of around 7 kms from which extended from Copelabhat to Kirlagally . However all the other vehicle movement was as usual were continued till the arrival of the police. It is learnt that in collusion of the police the truck driver block the public transport.

At around 9.30 am the Quepem police team arrived at the spot. The Dy-Collector Venancio Furtado and the Executive Magistrate Sudin Nato reached to the site at around 10.00 am. They tried to convince the villagers but failed.

They told the Dy-Collector that their office has not taken any action against their complaint which constrained them to come on the road. They put forth their demand which include immediate issuance of notification prohibiting entry for mining truck between 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm and from 7.30 am to 8.30 am, meantime mining truck should be stopped. They also demanded stopping the transportation of the mining truck till the completion of repair work of the road which is presently underway.

That after hearing the villagers the Dy-Collector Venancio furtado showed the villagers the proceeding of the meeting called by him on 26/11/2008 initiating action against the overloading truck and to prohibit the truck from entering Quepem Municipal area as demanded by the villager. However the villagers question the Dy-Collector that such proceedings of a meeting has any force of law, to which the Dy-Collector Venancio got irritated and order the P.I. of Quepem police Station headed by Santosh Dessai to arrest the villagers.

As the agitating crowd was large at initial stage the police hesitated to arrest. However as the Dy-Collector Venancio insisted to arrested the agitators the police made an attempt arrest the villagers. In the process of arresting the villagers there was a scuffle between the villagers and the police. The police were also at the receiving end as they were not having any lady constable to arrest the women. The Police also abused the villagers. Meanwhile police force from Curchorem along with Dy-S.P. along with full armed police van arrived at the spot.

At around 11.30 am in collusion with the Quepem the truck drivers managed to block the road for other vehicle and in spite complaint to the police they did nothing to clear the obstacle raised by the truck drivers.

That around 12 noon Quepem MLA Babu Kavlekar rushed to the spot and after listening to the grievances and demand of the villagers directed Dy-Collector Venancio Furtado to stop the transportation of ore from Sulcorna and Colomba via Quepem from Friday failing which the villagers threatened to stop the transport again. The Dy-Collector assured the villager that by 15th December he will issue a notification prohibiting entry during school hours and regulating speed limit. Even in spite of the assurance the villagers stick to their demand.

The villagers then demanded to issue challen to those truck which are overloaded to which all the truck driver got irritated as most of the trucks were overloaded and were bound to get a challen.

The Quepem MLA then called the RTO Quepem and directed them to take stern action against the overloading truck. However as the truck owner constantly pleaded to excuse them today so no over loaded truck were issued challen.

At the request of Quepem MLA and the assurance of the Quepem MLA and the Dy-Collector at around 1.00 pm the villagers allowed the mining truck to go. However they threaten to come again on the road if the misdeed of the truck continue.

John Fernandes

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