Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prerna Singh Bindra on Mining in Goa

Hi! following is a communication from Prerna Bindra...


After this note below appeared in The Herald, I heard from Timblo - very often, and with repeated demands to meet them - I had left Goa by then, but sadly, my story is yet to happen. I would like to go down to Goa again and do an extensive report on what mining is doing to Goa, for the little I saw and witnessed disturbed me. Mining is ruining Goa, its wildlife, forests, water tables, productivity of the soil, health, and by impacting the livlihood of the people, is changing the very fabric of the life of the people - people who are displaced from their villages for their fields are ruined by mining wastes. I met with people whose houses were cracked due to mining blasts, who now depend on tankers for their water, who are now suffering from respiratory diseases, and who can now only grow crops once a year (some who can't even do that) due to Mining. It will impact on tourism on which much of the Goan economy is dependent and it will ruin the face of Goa as we know it.

Timblo? The less said the better. People who profess to love Goa, and then set about ruining is, are deplorable. I have been first hand witness to their strong arm tactics shown to anyone who dares shake their empire. The underhand tactics are well-known, and need to be exposed...

Prerna Bindra

I note with some shock the blatant misrepresentation of facts, in certain sections of the media that myself, Prerna Singh Bindra, a journalist from
Tehelka, was 'trespassing' on Fomento property, and other baseless allegations which I would like to deny, and counter.

I deny the ridiculous charge of 'tresspassing'. There was no board which announced that the said property was 'private property' or 'tresspassers not allowed', there was no security personnel, so we-i was accompanied by Mr Rajendra Kerkar and my driver- entered what I was later informed, was Fomento premises. I must have gone in about 50 metres of what appeared to be-and later confirmed-to be a mining dump, I took about three pictures, when a security guard came towards us, and told us to "get out." He demanded my camera-which i refused to give. I asked him if this was private premises, and when he replied it was, I readily offered to leave, but refused to part with my camera. By which time, three other security gaurds had joined us-and demanded my camera. Their language was rough, and abusive-and best not repeated.
I not allowed to leave, our exit was physically blocked.

So we waited, as their might increased. In another 30 minutes there was security personnel, plus their myriad managers-mine manager, assistent manager, deputy managers-about 25-to 30 of them, and they got abusive, using language best not repeated in polite company.
They tried to snatch the car keys, even though we were standing quietly, making no attempts to leave. I requested them not to snatch the keys, but they persisted. And at this point , I decided to call the police-there is no irony in this, as the 'honourable' chairman of the company points out.

We were three of us, they owerpowered us in numbers, and were abusive, hence I felt the need to call the police which i did. There is sir, no 'illegal trespassing, but illegal detainment.
So who, pray is the 'terrorist' here?

As for Auduth Timblo's tall claims that their company is 'open to public scrutiny and will share any information'-I have requested just one simple bit of information from their manager, their media consultant, and their director Mr Louis-but am yet to hear from them. An example, perhaps, of how 'transparent' they are. My request to meet their director was also not been met with, and is merely being pushed around for the past three days.

Additionally, if the matter was 'of national security concern', perhaps they should have a board which atleast indicating that this is private property, or have manned, if not closed, gates?

Yes, their manager demanded my Tehelka identity, and i politely told him that since I had recently joined, I did not have Tehelka Pres card, but offered that he talk to the Tehelka editor, Tarun Tejpal, at that very moment. the managers refused. As they did any other identity proof. They were beyond reasoning. The same identity proof was given to the police, as requested by them.

It is high time that mining companies give up their bullying tactics. Mining, especially strip or open-cast mining, of the kind that prevails in Goa, has devastating impacts on environment, ecology,health, water tables, agricultural yields-this is backed by scientific studies, and this is the story that I am here to do, and refuse to be cowed down. I have made attempts to talk reasonably to Fomento, but draw the line at blatant defamation.

I have ten years of solid investigative journalism, covering environment and wildlife issues, behind me, and strongly object to ridiculous, and untrue, statements of 'journalism in the barb of active terrorism, "vested interests." and such like.

Tehelka, with its impeccable record of path breaking journalism, doesn't really need to justify its reputation.


Prerna Singh Bindra
Senior Astt Editor,

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