Friday, June 26, 2009

The Writing on the Wall

Goa’s mining sector poses new environmental challenges under the sway of globalised capital, says VIDYADHAR GADGIL

The Rs1,750-crore deal transferring all shares in V S Dempo & Co Pvt Ltd to Sesa Goa has been greeted surprisingly positively in Goa, with some commentators being positively gushing in their praise, making it somewhat difficult to distinguish between their reactions (“A bold and forthright decision”) and PR handouts from the concerned companies.

Regarding its plans, the Dempo Group has only said that it will be diversifying into “new age industries” and “the knowledge sector”. This is an extremely wide characterisation, and indicates nothing really about their plans. The Chairman of the group has asked the government to support its plans for this diversification, but the public does not really know what this involves. Rs1,750 crore is a sizeable pile of cash. It remains to be seen exactly what the group does with it, and what the implications will be for the Goan economy.

Just as there is no justification for the ecstasy over the sale, there is little basis at present for the dark predictions floating around, including rumours that Dempo-owned publications are up for sale or that retrenchment of employees in sections of the Dempo empire is round the corner. Frankly, this is unlikely and, anyway, the fact is that as of now nobody knows – except, possibly, the company top brass. And they aren’t telling.

But about the other end of the deal – the buyer – quite a lot is known. Despite the statements issuing forth from the Dempo group that they have sold to Sesa Goa – a Goan company “rooted in Goa itself” – Sesa Goa is not, and has never been, a Goan-owned company. Sesa Goa has changed ownership a number of times since it was set up in 1954 as Scambi Economi SA. This has included German owners and the Italian company Ilva, after which it passed into the hands of the Japanese company Mitsui, around 1997. In 2007, Sesa Goa was acquired by Vedanta Resources plc, whose headquarters is in London, not India. So much for it being a Goan company! Not that such issues make much of a difference in these days of globalised capitalism. The ‘Goan’ Dempo Group itself owns mines in other parts of India, with plans for global diversification.

Sesa Goa is generally considered to be the mining company in Goa with the best environmental record. But this record has been built up over the years, from the time before it was acquired by Vedanta. Vedanta, on the other hand, is a company with a truly appalling environmental record, even by the lax standards of the mining industry. In a long-lasting environmental conflict, Vedanta’s Lanjigarh project in Orissa, to set up an alumina refinery project together with a 75 MW coal-based captive power plant and an associated bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri Hills, has been embroiled in an environmental battle. The area is inhabited by the Dongria Kondh tribe, which considers the Niyamgiri hills sacred. The project has resulted in widespread environmental devastation and threatened the livelihood of the Dongria Kondhs.

A Supreme Court empowered committee, in its review of the Lanjigarh alumina refinery project, found that environmental clearances were wrongly granted on the premise that the refinery and a proposed open-cast mine would not encroach on protected forests. The reports highlighted the collusion between the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the State of Orissa in rushing through environmental clearances. It indicted the Ministry for violating basic tenets of environmental clearance procedure, violation of fundamental provisions of forest clearances, raised critical issues of perjury against Vedanta, MoEF and the Orissa Government, highlighted how the Ministry has deliberately overlooked field reports of its own Regional Office that had called for a detailed assessment prior to according clearances, and exposed the abhorrent violation of human rights of the affected communities, merely for seeking information and asserting their right to participate in Statutory Environmental Public Hearings.

Given these adverse remarks, the Supreme Court stated that it could not take the risk in handing over the mining operations to Vedanta. But the Court, in a bizarre twist, allowed Sterlite Industries, Vedanta’s subsidiary, to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the Government of Orissa and the Orissa Mining Corporation to work out the best formula for mining, and then inexplicably granted its approval to Sterlite to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills!

In the Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu, Vedanta’s subsidiary, the Madras Aluminium Company Limited (MALCO) was forced to suspend its illegal mining operations in November 2008, following a PIL presenting evidence that its bauxite mines had no permission under various environmental laws. Also in Tamil Nadu, Sterlite’s Tuticorin smelter complex is surrounded by fly ash and gypsum dumps. Official reports of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on Hazardous Waste Management also point to numerous violations by the plant. It is reported that over 100 people have been injured and more than a dozen killed by accidents or pollution from the Tuticorin complex.

Similarly, in Chhattisgarh, there is evidence that Vedanta subsidiary BALCO has caused considerable environmental pollution at its aluminium complex and the mines at Kawardha-Daldali. Vedanta’s environmental violations aren’t confined to India. In Zambia as well, Vedanta Resources-owned copper mining firm Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has been linked to violations of environmental guidelines.

One could go on listing Vedanta’s sins, but in the limited space available, it should suffice to mention that in 2007, the Norwegian Council of Ethics assessed Vedanta Resources and its Indian subsidiaries to judge whether the group was in breach of the council’s Ethical Guidelines for investment. Following this, the Council had withdrawn its funding, citing severe environmental damage and human rights violations linked to the group’s operations in India. The Norwegian government has excluded Vedanta from its national pension fund investments “due to an unacceptable risk of complicity in present and future severe environmental damage and systematic human rights violations”. The Norwegian government’s conclusion: “[Vedanta’s] violations against the environment and human rights… are recurrent at all the subsidiaries subject to investigation and have taken place over many years, indicating a pattern in the company’s practices where [they] are accepted and make up an established part of its business activities. Such a pattern of conduct constitutes an unacceptable risk that the company’s unethical practices will continue in the future.”

Vedanta is expert at greenwashing its activities. Interestingly, the company was recently declared the winner of the Golden Peacock in Environment Management by the UK-based World Environment Foundation and the New Delhi-based Institute of Directors (the seriousness with which the assessments for these awards are made can be gauged from the fact that Satyam was earlier given an award for Corporate Governance and Coca-Cola got an award for social responsibility!). Following strong protests, the award has now been withheld and is “under review”.

That is the company which now owns Sesa Goa, the biggest player in the mining business in Goa. The Dempos have, in a way, seen the writing on the wall and bowed to the worldwide consolidation of the iron and steel business that has been taking place over the past few years. Others may soon follow. There are already rumours that the mining interests of the Chowgules and Timblos are on the block...As the mining industry in Goa moves from the semi-feudal style of the big mining families to the brave new world of globalised corporate capitalism, the state will be faced with a whole host of new challenges, not least of which will be how to exert control over a behemoth like Vedanta. The ongoing struggle against Sesa Goa in Advalpal, which led to an order from the High Court against its dumping of mining rejects, is perhaps a portent of things to come.

Herald June 26, 2009, Panaji

Curpem locals oppose renewal of mining leases

QUEPEM, JUNE 25 (HC) -- Residents of Curpem and Colomba in Sanguem taluka on Thursday opposed the renewal of mining leases of two mining companies in their areas.

The residents made this decision at a public hearing organized by Goa State Pollution Control Board at Shree Curpeshwar Temple hall, Satarkarwada-Curpem, Sanguem.The public hearing was organized to hear objections and suggestions from the public with regard to the two mining companies, who had applied for the environment clearance certificate to renew their mining leases. Additional Collector Prasanna Acharya and GSPCB representative Rajendra J Kamat presided over the hearing.

Rama Velip of Colomba said that since the tributaries of Kushawati River start from the mining site, starting of mine would adversely affect Kushawati River as the mining silt will flow into the river.“Due to operation of the mine, agriculture will also be affected as some parts of mine lease area form agricultural land. Besides, rock carvings at Colomba and Ponsamol, which are nearby the proposed mine, will also be affected,” said Velip.

It may be recalled that a year ago, Rivona-Colomba panchayat had passed a resolution stating that no further mining will be allowed in the village.

In his speech, Motes Antao, said that the major portion where the mine would be set up is a ‘forest area’, besides Selaulim Dam is also at a distance of 500 mtrs away from the proposed mine site.Dr Audut Prabhu Dessai, while opposing the mine, stated that mining activity would affect the tribals in the area. “There will be traffic chaos. The roads are already overburdened with the existing trucks,” said Dr Dessai.

Harish Gaonkar, Xavier Fernandes and Surya Gaonkar also spoke on the occasion.However, Curpem Sarpanch Josephine Fernandes along with some locals, Suraj Gaonkar and Dilip Gaonkar supported the mining activity, provided interests of the locals are protected.

Herald 26 June 2009, Panjim

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Ore is our ore

By Lionel Messiah in his column “Lionroars” on Sunday , 21st June 2009, Herald’s Mirror section published from Panjim, Goa.

The Dempos sold its mining company, which holds 1,800 hectares of leased mining licences to Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources for a cash-and-carry sum of Rs 1,750 crore. But, hang on, does the company actually own the ore on the land they owned, not withstanding the fact no individual can own mineral rights in India? The distressing answer is huge ‘NO’. Why? Because mineral wealth is the nation’s wealth – not for individuals to exploit for their personal benefit. The US is the only country on the planet that allows individuals to own mineral rights. And we all know what those merry band of individuals, who not only own minerals, also everything above and below earth, did to the world’s economy. Through a rather cunning route, the Government of India was thwarted in its plans to nationalise the mines in Goa decades ago – the compromise was the mining leases you have in Goa today. What the Government of India did was annul the concessions given by the Portuguese for perpetuity. It then came out with The Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (Abolition and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act, 1987. So, while everyone applauded, the deal of the century (Dempo-Vedanta) was played out making maximum use of Goa’s red soil.

Surface Rights or Mineral Rights?

If you calculate the quantity of ore that has been dug out from the earth and sold to the Japanese alone, it would give you sleepless nights thinking of what the worth of that could have done for Goa. Macau would look like a poor man’s Shangri La. Here’s a bit of information that should at best (or at least) make you want to pull your hair out, so you can sleep at last. Sesa Goa’s linage has been transformed since 1954, when it kicked off as Scambi Economi SA, Goa. The following year it was jointly renamed Sesa Goa Ltd, after it was jointly taken over by Gewerkeschaft Exploration, West Germany, and Ferromin SpA, Italy, a subsidiary of Finsider SpA, belonging to the IRI group – which had by then acquired the German company’s stake in Sesa. Mingoa Pvt Ltd and Sesa Goa were merged into one company.

Later, in the course of restructuring of certain subsidiaries within the IRI group, Sesa Goa’s ownership changed from Finsider SpA to Finsider SpA International SA, Luxemburg, and then to Finsinder International UK. Phew! Looks like a soccer game, the way they kick around (on) Goa’s scarred red soil. In 1981, Finsider divested 60 per cent of its shareholding to the Indian Public. It hiked it again under its new name Ilva International, from 40 per cent to 51 per cent in 1993 – now under the RILP umbrella. Now, tell me what stops Vedanta from selling the combined might of their mines to China’s Chinalco, who were willing to offer a $19.5-billion-cash injection in favour of a joint venture in Western Australia with bitter rival BHP Billiton, just to keep out another rival, Rio Tinto? It’s a long story, but what needs to be understood here is that when rare earth gets rarer, $19.5 billion becomes peanuts. That’s why the US is willing to fight a trillion-dollar war in Iraq to gain control over crude oil that costs far, far less to refine closer to home. And may I remind you that Rs1,750 crore would mean chickens*#t, considering the low rupee value against the dollar, and no deterrent to future buyers like the Chinese going on an acquisition spree.

Jogging your memory

When I interviewed Emilio Riva – who owned RILP – 1995 for a national business daily in Sesa Ghor, it was crystal clear to me that he had no intention of retaining ownership of the Sesa Goa he had just acquired. Though he denied it in the interview, he soon sold it to Mitsui, who appeared to have the same itch to sell as all Sesa Goa owners inherently have, and sold it to Vedanta. The Italian billionaire has, at that point of time, acquire Ilva Laminati Piani SpA, Italy(ILP), the holding company of Finsider International Co Ltd, UK, which was Sesa Goa’s principal share shareholder then. The Riva Group rose from 25th position to become the world’s fourth-largest steel producer after it acquired ILP. See, its all about power, wealth and screw the rest. Incidentally, the Essar Group also had a 32 per cent stake in RILP!

PS: My apologies if the 2-Fast-2-Furious pace of describing how Sesa Goa was sold over the years made you dizzy. But within this restricted space I couldn’t do any better.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Protest launched against High Court, Panjim

Group of people led by senior High Court Adv.Jos Peter D'Souza today unfurled the banner of protest against lethargy of Goa Bench of Bombay High Court in setting up Sexual harassment committee. The dramatic protests took place at the International Centre, Dona Paula, Goa to coincide with the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Swatantra Kumar along with Justice Sinha from Supreme Court and Justice Nelson Britto of Goa Bench of Bombay High visited International Centre to start off training in mediation for some lawyers in North Goa.

Protesters prominently held a protest banner that read
"High Court at Panaji: Sexual Harassment?! No committee No Complaint"
Protesters also distributed the hand out to the public with question "Should sexual harassment Committee have priority over Mediation centre at High Court, Panaji? Yes or No. SMS 9822122399."

Justice Nelson Britto met up with agitating Adv. Jos Peter D'Souza and assured him a hearing with the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Swatantra Kumar with a request that the demonstration that caused embarrassment to the Judiciary be withdrawn immediately. Adv. D'Souza however turned down his offer and continued the protest at the entrance of the International centre this morning. Hearing with the Chief Justice Swatantra Kumar never materialized.

It may be recalled that on Goa Revolution Day June 18, 2009 Adv. Jos Peter D'Souza had paid rich tributes to Justice Khanna for being a lone judge on the constitution bench deciding whether the citizens have fundamental right to life in the case of emergency. Justice Khanna was a sole Judge to uphold the right to life under emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The rest of the four Judges succumbed to the political pressure and held that right to life can be dispensed with under the situation of emergency. Adv. D'Souza demanded statue of Liberty be build in India in honour of Justice Khanna.

Hardly two days had passed since he delivered his lecture on 'Judicial Accountability' and Adv. Peter started off the campaign to stand up for judiciary for the sake of judiciary.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Friday, June 19, 2009

GOAMAP celebrates Goa Rovolution Day

GOAMAP celebrated Goa Rovolution Day with a public meeting followed by tributes to Martyrs memorial at Azad Maidan, Panjim. 63 years ago on 18th June 1946 Dr.Ram Manohar Lohiya defied Portuguese fascist rule in Margao leading to his arrest and setting off mass movement against the Colonial powers from Iberian Peninsula in Europe.

GOAMAP celebrated this day in 2009 because it believes that Revolution is required in Goa considering huge mining loot and sale of its soil and ore to various countries in the world including Japan and China with only misery and bondage of numerous kinds to the people of Goa. So for the sake of happiness from misery and liberation from bondage Revolution is a must for Goa.

Advocate Jos Peter D'Souza, Dr.Calude Alvares, Sebastian Rodrigues, Ramesh Gauns, Pravin Sabnis, Procopio Fernandes, Adv. Albertina Almeida, Drgadas Gaonkar, Pandurang Kukalkar and Floriano Lobo addressed the meeting at T.B. Cunha Hall, Panjim.

Advocate Jos Peter D'Souza was the lead speaker of the day. He spoke on "Judicial Accountability". Citing examples he came down heavily on judiciary in India, particularly in Goa and stressed the need to "Stand up for the Judiciary for the sake of Judiciary". He said Goa Bench of Bombay High Court should have taken sue moto cognition of River Princess stranded at Sinquerim coast in North Goa but has not done so as High Court is function under powerful influence of mining lobby in the State of Goa. He observed that nobody in the State of Goa is standing up to challenge against the Judiciary for the fear of contempt of Court. Adv. D'Suza stressed that it is important for the 'People-of-Standing' in society to come out and courageously speak out for Judaical accountability.

He further pointed out that High Court have been insisting to set up Sexual Harassment Committee to various institutions but it is yet to take this seriously when it comes to sexual harassment in the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court and set up mandatory sexual harassment committee to investigate the sexual harassment case at the High Court. He called for people to protest and against judiciary and willingly go to the Jail after being charged with contempt in a bid while cleaning up the judiciary.

Dr.Calude Alvares commented Motesh Antao of Colamb, Sanguem for being fearless about being arrested by the police for protesting against the mining industy. He stressed the need to be fearless about getting arrested while standing up for justice.

Pravin Sabnis read out the poem on 18th June by Manoharai Sardessai while comparing the function.

Sebastian Rodrigues, Convenor of Goa Federation of Mines Affected People observed that mining industry has only spread misery in Goa in the past 60 years and called for increasing monitoring of the industry.

Ramesh Gauns termed mining industry as "Anti-national" for taking India to International Court of Justice in Hague in 1962 to force statement from India that integration of Goa was a Liberation and not conquest.

Durgadas Gaonkar and Pandurang Kukalkar - both of GAKUVED - advocated Revolutionary program to set right the loot of tribal people in Goa. Durgadas Gaonkar condemn Dempo mining company for selling mining leases to British multinational Vedanta. While Pandurang Kukalkar demanded take-over of lands held be Ranes in Sattari taluka as they belong to tribal people but Ranes have established their legal control over the same.

Floriano Lobo of Goa Su-Raj Party expressed his concerns about fake 'Freedom fighters' in Goa.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Large Scale mining silt enters Selaulim Dam

According to the reports received yesterday large scale mining silt has entered Selaulim Dam past one week due to heavy rains. The mine in inside the Dam reservoir was in operation till few months ago at the behest of Saolgaocars and Alemaos both of whom are elected members of the Goa Legislative Assembly.

Selaulim dam caters to the water needs of South Goa as well as Central Goa as its water is pumped out and released into Opa water works located in Ponda taluka.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

13th Annual NEST Conference: Green Movements, Red Politics & The Blue Planet

(ESTD: 1994)

13th Annual Conference on
Green Movements,
Red Politics & The Blue Planet

ON 28TH, 29TH & 30TH DECEMBER 2009

Venue & Postal Communication:

2nd Floor, Near ICICI Bank, College Road
Bhawanipatna – 766 001,
Kalahandi, Orissa, INDIA.


Luxuriant forest cover of Niyamgiri hill range

Culture & Heritage Museum at Jakkam

Jharan at Jakkam

Phurlijharan Waterfall

Wooden Rest House at Jakkam

NEST is a non funded voluntary organization completing 15 years of its activities. It is founded by Prof. Bikram Das Gupta, Department of Chemistry, Goa University. The theoretical focus is holistic and interdisciplinary. NEST as an organization is an interface between the Academicians, Professionals, Activists, Workers & Common People to enhance and consolidate the understanding of the pressing problems. The group is also involved in solidarity meets with different groups of people threatened by development paradigm. Annual commemorations of Hiroshima Day, May Day and Environment Day etc. are other NEST activities. The following are the themes of last 12 years:

1. “Nature Society & Transformation: Peaceful Society”, Madkai, Goa.
2. “Development and it’s consequences; Peaceful Society”, Madkai, Goa.
3. “Development and it’s consequences; Govt. School, Mencurem, Goa.
4. “Institutions, Idelogies & Knowledge Systems”, Zantye College, Bicholim, Goa.
5. “Science & Education in Historical Perspectives”, Kamaleshwar High School, Korgaon, Goa.
6. “Dynamics of Order & Disorder in Nature & Society; Chaos, Systems Theory & Chaocomplexolgy”, New Lead Trust, Kalyanpuram, Tamilnadu.
7. “Peoples Resources & Resistance”, Madras Christian College, Tambram, Tamilnadu.
8. “Indigenous People”, IDC, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
9. “Political Economy”, Liberty Library, Mananthabadi, Kerala.
10. “Women, Workers & Humanism”, Shikshak Bhawan, Pune, Maharashtra.
11. “Translational Corporations People & the State”, Mahale Hall, Chorao, Goa.
12. “Protected Areas & Heritage”, Kulgi, Dandeli Wild Life Sanctuary, Karnataka.

Main Theme :

1. Green Philosophers : Early Greek Philosophers, Goutam Buddha, Mahavir Jain, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Martin Heideggar, Bhima Bhoi, Hanah Arendt.
2. Green Academicians – Activists : Chief seatle, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Chiko Mendes, Verdansky, V. Shaubeger.
3. Green Communities : Indigenous people, Bishnoi, Alekha, Tinai.
4. Environmental issues, TNC’s & the People: Politics of land water, forest & climate.
5. Environmental issue; NGO’s and the State.
6. Politicization of the Green Movements.
7. Greening of the Political Parties.
8. Exploring the viability of a Green Party.
9. In search of Alternatives.
10. Any other related topics.


■ Clad with dense forest and vallies the modern Kalahandi district of Orissa is situated between 19.3’ and 21.5’ north latitude and 82.20’ and 83.47’ East Longitude.
■ Eastern undulated zone of Orissa.

■ Forests are historically recognized for its rich wildlife population.
■ It was declared a game reserve by the ex-Maharaja of Kalahandi.
■ It was proposed to be notified as a wildlife sanctuary in the working plan of Kalahandi Forest Division and was approved by the MoEF on 16th December,1998.
■ The area has been constituted as an Elephant Reserve by the state of Orissa vide Order N4643/WL (Cons)34/04 dated 20.08.2004.
■ More than 75% of the hill is covered by thick forests with an average density of 0.6.
■ It has more than 300 species of plants, trees etc including 50 species of medicinal plant. Six species are listed in the IUCN Red Data Book .
■ These forests are yet to be surveyed properly for their floral and faunal wealth.

Weather : Temperature in the month of December: 8- 100C. Warm clothes are required.

Way of Approach : KESINGA is the nearest railway station which is 35 kms away from Bhawanipatna. Trains from Bangalore, Allepy, Ernakulam, Chennai, Howarah, Tata, Bokaro & Bilaspur, Bhubaneswar come through Kesinga. Local transportation from Kesinga will be provided.

Nearest AirPort : Raipur 275 kms, Vijag 330 kms, Bhubaneswar 440 kms from Bhawanipatna.

Lodging Boarding, Local Transportation, Sight seeing and Registration fees.

Rs.1,000/- (Rupees One Thousand) – on or before 15th October 2009.
Rs.1,500/- (Rupees One Thousand Five Hundred) – on or before 15th November 2009.
Rs.2,000/- (Rupees Two Thousand) – Spot registration.
30$, 40$, 50$ for Foreign Delegates on or before 15th October, 15th November or instant registration respectively.

The amount may be deposited in the Account no. 30742387875, SBI, College Square Branch, Bhawanipatna. Branch code: 12120.
No provision for TA.
Email the registration form in the format:
Name: ___________________________
Sex ______ Age _____
Postal address with email id & mobile no.
Registration Amount deposited _______
in words _________________________
Date & time of arrival _______________


Organizing Secretary :

Lokanath Sahu,
Near Gandhi Park, Bhawanipatna,
email: /, Mob: 094370 70893

Joint Organizing Secretary :

Himansu Charan Sadangi,
Ramnagar Para, Bhawanipatna,, Mob. 094374 29911

Treasurer :

Siddhartha Pattnaik,
Director, REINZ Informatics, Bhawanipatna,
email: , Mob. 094372 93933

Co-Treasurer :
Rakesh Kumar Mund,
Director, REINZ Informatics, Bhawanipatna,, Mob. 094372 24260


· Ashutosh Naik, Professor, School of Earth Sciences, Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Orissa. 09437882618.
· C.R.Bijoy, Activist, Ramkrishna Mission Hospital Qtrs., Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu., 09843172584.
· JATIN NAIK , Advocate, Goa High Court, Goa,, 09764108540.
· Jatin Nayak, Professor, Dept. of English, Vanivihar, Bhubaneswar. 09337116987.
· SIMANCHAL MISHRA, Lect. in Economics, Bhawanipatna,, 09437294214.
· Tribhuban Panda, Scientist, Junagarh, Kalahandi, , , 09437092501, 09692119971.

Abstract of the Paper must be sent by 15th October 2009. Contributors of papers are requested to send a hard copy and soft copy of their paper.
The Full paper should be typed in MS word (Normal, Times New Roman) in the following format. Paper size: A4, Margins: 4.0, 2.5, 3.5 and 2.5 cm from left, top, right and bottom respectively. The script should include the title of the paper (Font 12 point, bold, all capital) the name/s of the author/s (Font: 11 point, bold, Small; the name of the presenting author should be underlined) address of the author/s and fax, telephone and e-mail of the corresponding author (10 point). The text should be 1.5 spaced in 12 point, Times New Roman and occupy a maximum area of 15 x 22.5 cm, not exceeding six (8) pages including Abstract, Table/s, Figure/s, illustration/s, etc. The Tables/s (Table 1 caption at the top), Figure/s (Fig 1 caption at the bottom), illustration/s, etc should be inserted in appropriate positions by the author itself.

Abstract: The abstract (100-150 words Normal+10 point, Times New Roman, italic) should contain all the substance of the methods and the results achieved. The abstract should be presented in such a way that it must be able to stand alone. References and non-standard or uncommon abbreviations should therefore be avoided.

Keywords: Immediately after the abstract, provide keywords (a maximum of ten), avoiding general and plural terms and multiple concepts. Only abbreviations firmly established in the field may be eligible.
References: Should be as per given format
[Sr.No.] Surname, Name, Name of the book / journal, vol. no. (year), page no.

Contributors of papers should avoid lengthy introduction, unnecessary ornamentalisation and peripherals. Views and counter views are encouraged. Let hundred flowers blossoms, thousand thoughts contend.

Content of papers
1. Field work experience
2. Theoretical analysis
3. Evaluation of approaches
Time Slot: 40 Minutes

Content of papers
1. Field work experience
2. Pedagogical skills
3. Constitutional analysis
4. Indigenous practices
5. Specific green paradigm
6. Documentary film
Time Slot: 20 minutes

Content of papers
1. Conceptual Issues
2. Dialectical probing
3. Search for alternatives
4. Green Practices
Time Slot: 10 minutes

Please mention the required time slot for your presentation (which may be changed on situational exigencies).

Confirmation regarding participation, abstract as well as full paper may be emailed to:


NB: LCD projector and OHP facilities are available.

Tentative Programme

8 – 9AM
Registration & breakfast
9 – 11.45AM
Paper presentation
Tea break
12 – 2PM
Paper presentation
2 – 3PM
3 – 5PM
Children Activities
( 10 – 15 yrs)
5.30 – 8PM
Paper presentation
8 – 10PM
· Field Tour-(Breakfast enroute)
· Visit to Phuralijharan waterfall, Jakkam
· Interaction with people involved in indigenous handicraft at Balisar.
· Interaction with people on dependence on forest produce, forest rights, common property rights, cultivation past & present.

2 – 3PM
LUNCH at Th.Rampur and return to Bhawanipatna
8 – 10PM
DINNER & cultural
8 – 9AM
9 – 12 Noon
Paper presentation
12- 12.15PM
Tea break
Paper presentation
2 – 3PM
3 – 5PM
Paper presentation
8 PM

Note: All participants are requested to attend the seminar activities for the full 03 (Three) days.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In Defence of Ambelim's Anthony D'silva

“D’Silva: The one-man Ambelim army” was the title of the article that featured on front page of Goa’s leading English daily – Gomantak Times on May 01, 2009. The article on Anthony D’silva highlighted role he played in bringing about awareness on the regional plan and helping in formulating of the village regional plan 2021 for his village and getting VP3 status.

It is precisely this publicity that created some more hardships to Anthony that has suffered umpteen numbers of them in the past including physical assault on his body twice – once by Police in 2002 at Margao Police Station and the second time at the hands of Goons in 2007 in Cuncolim.

The publicity in the newspaper created problems for the village sarpanch. He then launched offensive against Anthony. First convened village comittee for Regional Plan 2021. The legal standing of that so called regional plan 2021 committee itself was in doubt,as the regional plan was submitted long before.Then he got his position clarified in the press. Simunltaneously called special Gram Sabha on May 17 2009 to discuss newspaper report on Anthony D’silva on May 1, 2009. "The meeting was called in a hasty manner,bringing to the notice of the public just less than 24 hours." Anthony obeserved

At this Gram Sabha of May 17 2009 one of he resolutions taken reads as follows “Gram Sabha Members unanimously proposed and resolved that henceforth Mr. Anthony D’silva should not be appointed/nominated on committee relating to the Panchayat work in future.” Mr. Anthony D’silva himself was not invited for this Gram Sabha even though the matter was relating to him. He however got the copies of the minutes of the Gram Sabha through RTI application and was shocked to read the resolution on him. Clearly this was Political Vendetta_ Political muscle flexing as power equations were threatened.

Anthony raised a question “Why punish me without trial: without even a copy of notice to attend the so called Special Gram Sabha meeting? Why personal attack in the Panchayat in my absence?”

Legally, according to Anthony the Special Gram Sabha does not hold ground as according the existing Panchayat laws – The Goa Panchayati Raj Act 1994 one tenth of member of Gram Sabha has to make request for such a meeting. “Sarpanch shall, upon a reacquisition in writing by not less than one-tenth of number of members call an extraordinary meetings of the Gram Sabha, within thirty days from the receipt of such requisition.” Reads Section (3) (5) of the The Goa Panchayati Raj Act 1994.

There are only 4 gram sabhas specified in a year ,and 4 special gram sabhas with dates mentioned as 26th January, 15th August, 2nd October and 19th December. Other then these gram sabhas are titled as extraordinary gram sabhas, so as per the act the sarpanch could have taken a extraordinary gram sabha,but this category of gram sabhas needs atleast 10 percent of the total gram sabha members to requisition in writting requesting for the same. Of course in realty this special Gram Sabha to decree on Anthony D'silva_ not even a single gram sabha member nor single panch asked for. The required procedures were not followed at all.

Ambelim village that is in close proximity of Assolna in Salcette has the population of approximately 3000 people and nearly 40% of whom are tribals. There is no School nor Hospital in Ambelim Panchayat jurisdictions. Situation of housing and even sanitation is very acute. I personally witnessed this situation in one locality of the village known as “Pedda” that was flooded few years ago when the Sal river over flew. Anthony D’silva once even remarked that if these village problems are not taken care of then future terrorists will come from Ambelim.

Some tribal families however has made fortune through their ventures in Gulf Countries, Shipping overseas and fishing trawlers but their percentage is very small and majority of the tribal communities here – Gawdas and Kunbis continue to live in very poor and hostile conditions that are being further nurtured by existing political leadership.

Ambelim that way is no short of educated and rich but are all migrated out of Ambelim to Margao, and other parts of world. They however have failed to plough their knowledge and wealth back into the village. This, Anthony feels is a major tragedy. “If only they had had to think that Ambelim must be treated more than their holiday destinations periodically but something much more than that_ the change can come about.” Anthony laments.

Anthony has been leaving in this village after returning from Bombay for nearly a decade now and has immediately launched number of initiatives in the village at his own personal expenses towards creating political awareness in the village. Originally from ambelim itself, Anthony has brief innings in the Gulf - before settling in Bombay - for livelihood reasons like so many thousands of People from Goa do. One of the interesting things he started was the newspaper Kiosk in his village. Ambelim village has very unusual and geographically unfriendly topography. Settlements are spread out all over the places. Anthony would regularly buy newspapers in the morning and spread them in kiosks at different places in the village. Spaces for the kiosks were made available by the villagers themselves. So he promoted habit of reading newspapers daily amongst the People of Ambelim. Perhaps this is the reason that newspaper story on him made such a huge impact of the local Panchayat.

All the newspapers would be welcome in his village except those involed in the sale of Goan land on mass scale . Anthony campaigned against of Times Group and other sites because they were involved actively in sale of Goa’s land though internet and through Goa land sale fairs in Delhi.

Anthony also initiated signature campaign against Sale of Goa’s land to foreigners. With megaphone in his hand he toured village to village to spread the message of the cause that he chose to campaign as it was dear to his heart.

Then he has been very vocal participant in number of protest meetings against ‘Mega projects’ of real estate as well as protests against mining.

In health sector he helped and took care of many to the extent of even travelling out of the state of Goa and number of times to accompany the sick.

He organised awareness camps on ill effects of smoking, alcohol and drugs, hiv/aids, blood grouping, blood donations etc. and has provided advice relating to health and sickness

He also organised carrier guidiance and counselling for less fortunate student and X students. Besides helped lot of children in guiding them to get admissions in schools,colleges and even in vocational and professional colleges etc

He has been publicly debatting issues on social issues like HIV/AIDS, rampant sale of goan land,special status to Goa, agricultureal activities, mosquitoes control programes, etc.

"I have brought agricultural programmes to the people of my village of Ambelim" Anthony quips.

He has been appreciated for his work by his alma matar school Monte de Guirim for the first time in the history of the school for the social works being done in Goa.

Anthony’s political analysis about his constituency is very sharp and precise. And precisely that has ruffled up many powerful people in power. On 23rd May 2002 he was picked up few days before the General Assembly elections in Goa_ taken to Margao police Station and beaten up on his legs 11 pm in the night. The reason: He was campaigning against BJP and screening the documentary film on communalism “He Ram”. He was released during mid night after large number of people began assembling outside the Police Station in Margao and Politicians feared sympathy wave against them.

Then in 2007 on 8th April Anthony was assaulted by five goons belonging to an influential politician from South Goa while he was on a visit to one of the sick persons at NUSI hospital in Cuncolim, Salcete. Anthony was brutally beaten up – kicked on his stomach that forced excreta out of his body and simultaneously caused vomiting of blood. Goons while beating up Anthony D’silva shouted “this fellow is always against Philip Neri Rodrigues. Now we will teach you a lesson.”

Doctor at NUSI hospital who examined him on the spot – Dr. Rahul Velip - certified that Anthony has suffered grievous hurt from the assault and admitted him to the hospital. He was treated for some days and then discharged on 10th April 2007 from the NUSI hospital. Next day of his release another Doctor of the hospital Dr. Prahlad Savaoikar changed the certificate of Dr. Velip and issued new certificate to the police that the hurt sustained by Anthony D’silva was ‘minor and simple’ and Dr. Rahul Velip had committed mistake in giving the certificate that it was ‘grievous hurt’. The entire episode of attack on Anthony sounds very shady with political vendetta at its best. Isn’t it?

The controversial gram Sabha of Ambelim Panchayat has brought in Anthony D’Silva and the service he renders to the community in sharp public focus. The activities with all its diversity have a uniformity of purpose – political awareness of the community. Anthony uses both his knowledge as well as his courage at the service of the community with great risks to his life and family. He is one of the few active citizens in Goa today who can be compared to the valiant people in the Goa’s freedom struggle. He deserves recognition and salutations of all people with a determination for defence of freedom, community empowerment and political change at their core. I stand in defence of Anthony D’Silva and salute him for all that he stands for as it is only best for the future of Goa and India, and for humanity's yearnings for liberation.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Goa Revolution Day Celebration on June 18 in Panjim

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) will organise special program to celebrate Goa Revolution Day on June 18, 2009 at T.B. Cunha Hall, Panaji, Goa. Revolution Day is significant in the history of Goa’s Freedom Struggle in order to uphold civil liberties and sovereignty of the People of Goa. 63 year ago on June 18, 1946 Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya defied fascist colonial Portuguese regime to assert freedom of speech and expression as well as freedom of Public Assembly in Margao. Dr.Lohiya was arrested and that resulted in mass upsurge against the Portuguese regime.

Advocate Jos Peter D,souza, a senior High Court Lawyer in Goa will speak on Judicial Accountability at a Goa Revolution Day program on June 18, 2009 at 3.00 pm. Members of public are invited to participate in the program.

Sebastian Rodrigues,

GAKUVED People’s Tribunal : Interim Observation

People’s Tribunal on Restoration of Adivasi Homelands in Goa
30-31st May, 2009

Sunday, 31 May 2009


1. Introduction
We have heard about 60 submissions from different parts of Goa. It is clear from their testimonies that there is a concerted effort to deprive the Adivasis of their land, their home, their sources of livelihood and above all their human dignity. There is also a feeling of helplessness and misery looming large in their faces, as neither the State nor the persons concerned seem to bother about their condition.

2. Adivasi right to recognition and declaration of their land rights
In all the cases, we have seen the land records in the revenue department are manipulated, without any notice to the Adivasis who have been in possession for generations or through use of force. The land could be a part of a forest, but the fact remains that the Adivasis have been in continuous possession, using the land for cultivation, for growing trees, plants and vegetables, for grazing their cattle and collection of forest produce. It is they who preserved the forest and maintained the land. The forest department has no right to claim that they are in possession. Ordinarily land records in the revenue department do not determine the title. But, the Adivasis having no document of title are being deprived of their possession by these deceitful means. Long and continuous possession for generations together is sufficient enough to claim their Title on the land, and the Adivasis have a right to be declared as the owners of the land which is in their possession.

3. Violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India
What is happening to-day are not the Adivasis losing their land. It is much more. They are losing their right to their livelihood, right to their homes, right to their environment and inevitably, they will lose their right to live with human dignity. It is in that sense, what is happening is, particularly violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Their right to life, and all that goes with life, their right to live with human dignity. We have also heard of police repression when adivasis resorted to their struggle for survival.

4. The need to take proper steps to implement the Forest Right Act-2006
The land problems associated with forest lands have arisen due to either the settlement process being ignored, or faulty settlement. It has resulted in non-recording and non-recognition of rights. All these cases now come under the purview of the Forest Right Act-2006; whose implementation has not been initiated by the Government. Any violation of the Forest Right Act-2006 by any official is an offence punishable with a fine of a thousand rupees under section 7 of the Act. The rights recognised include homeland and cultivated land, grazing, minor forest produce and all customary and traditional rights except hunting. All proceedings to have the Adivasis dispossessed should be stopped forthwith.

5. The need for legislative protection
Absence of legislative protection of land for restoration of alienated land and prevention of alienation of land as required under Article 244, non-inclusion of tribal hamlets under Sixth Schedule of Article 244 denying the enjoyment of Panchayat Raj (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 have denied Constitutional Protection being extended to Goa. Grazing lands are particularly critical for the lives of Adivasis in Goa which are under assault by landlords, government and developers. The recognition of their rights to land which the Adivasis are tilling or residing for generations, including making them bhatkar of the land, the Goa Mundkar Act and Agricultural Tenancy Act should be implemented in its true spirit.

6. Vulnerability to displacement due to absence of documentation
A larger number of cases demonstrated the Communidade as a space, location of conflict with regard to the livelihood rights of Adivasis of Goa. By and large, the pattern has been that despite generations of possession and usage, the names of the Adivasis fail to feature in government records as tenants of the land. All that is indicated is that ownership of the land is with the Communidades. Subsequently, any extension of facilities, government projects requires consent/NOC from Communidades. At the office of the Communidade, Adivasis are discouraged from claiming their rights, their requests refused, and their right based claims are rejected. Given that a number of them have been effected, their long historic occupation of land is invisibilised. With no say in decision making at all levels and land in short supply for the ‘development’ envisaged by the government, for SEZ, IT Parks, Food Parks, Mining, etc.

7. Cancellation of Mining leases/concession
The area which the mining companies claim to have mining leases/concession is mostly inhabited by the Adivasis. Though the Adivasis do not have titles in some cases, they are in actual possession. The existence of adivasis is at stake with the operationalisation of mining leases. The mining leases of the mines that affect the very lives and livelihood of the adivasis require to be cancelled.

8. On Environment
It is clear from the depositions that many of the villagers involved in tenancy disputes, disputes over ownership, or being harassed over their use of land, they have been cultivating a variety of trees and other crops on their land. Also, among the velips and other communities, there are persons with knowledge of local plants and their medicinal properties. Similarly, bunds separating the khazan land under paddy cultivation from the sea have been traditionally protected by village community.

Hence the various adivasi communities have a long tradition of environmental balance. They say that policies adopted by the forest department are often destructive of the flora of the region. Preservation of grazing lands for cattle, etc. is also important for ecological balance. Chopping of branches of trees for firewood is not destructive, yet villagers who do so are harassed. The activities of mining companies on the other hand, are both illegal and highly destructive of the environment.

The bond between the community and its forest environment provides the best guarantee for sustaining the environment. This should be recognised by Government policy makers to frame rules for granting concessions to mining companies; also the tasks of the forests departments, their powers and the use made of those powers, needs to be revised and constantly monitored in the light of the above.

The fields, Khazans, plateaus, forests and water bodies have been nurtured and preserved by the adivasis whose livelihoods are sustainable and harmonious with nature. However, irresponsible mining, indiscriminate industrialisation (SEZs) and haphazard real estate development have been responsible for attack on the lands, lives and livelihoods of the very adivasis who have been the custodians of Goa’s environment. Therefore, every planning and development exercise should include the restoration of the land use based on traditional rights of the adivasis on Goa’s land. The government’s Regional Plan 2021 cannot be said to be legal without the conduct of ‘gram sabha’ meetings and the constitution and deliberations of the Gram Sabha as visualised under the Forest Right Act-2006 with regard to planning of community resources.

9. Women in the forefront of struggles
Women have been severely impacted by the non-recognition of rights of adivasis leading to their dispossession of livelihood resources. They have been in the forefront of the struggles in Goa, particularly in mining related struggles. The women welfare and empowerment schemes such as the Self Help Groups do not have the desired results when the land and resource rights of Adivasis itself are denied.

Justice Hosbet Suresh
Chairperson, Jury

Adv. Caroline Collasso
Member, Jury

Dr. Wandana Sonalkar
Member, Jury

Adv. Albertina Almeida
Member, Jury

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Irresponsible mining, heavy rains play havoc in Bicholim

BICHOLIM JUNE 9: Irresponsible mining activities coupled with heavy monsoon rains caused damage and destruction which disrupted normallife in the villages of Mulgao and Advalpal in Bicholim taluka on Saturday.

The disaster took place as no measures were taken to prevent mining rejects and rain water from flowing down and wreaking havoc. The force of the water was so strong that it entered houses, uprooted several trees and flooded coconut plantations at Manasbag. The lake of Dhaim was also flooded and caused hardships to villagers.

The deputy collector of Bicholim D H Kenawadekar assured agitated villagers that "All those who are responsible for causing disaster will be asked to pay appropriate compensation to the affected families and precautionary measures will be taken so that the disaster would not be repeated." On his visit, he was accompanied by the joint mamlatdar Brijesh Manerikar.

At Manasbag in Mulgao, houses of Vaman Mandrekar, Tukaram Mandrekar, Rama Mandrekar and Amrut Mandrekar were affected as mining rejects andrain water entered their homes. Avita Mandrekar, a housewife, said "In the wee hours of Saturday water along with the mining rejects entered our house and damaged clothes, utensils and made us helpless."Villagers complained that in spite of informing the management of a mining company well in advance about pre-monsoonal precautionary measures to arrest the flow of the rain water, they did nothing to prevent the disaster.

According to Mulgao panch Vishal Gad, "Presently about 50 houses in and around Manasbag are under threat from mining rejects. If no propermeasures are taken, the future of the area is bleak."

Similarly, in Advanpal, eight houses were badly affected due to the entry of mining rejects and rain water.

Resha Yeshwant Naik from Varchawada, Advalpal with tears in her eyes, said, "The whole night we could not sleep. Continuously for more than five hours we were cleaning our ground floor. Our day-to-day clothing, bedding along with electrical appliances got damaged. Water also entered in our shop and caused us heavy losses.

"The family of Atamaram Naik lost two laptops and other electronic gadgets as they were washed away with the flood water.

Vijay Padloskar, whose house was damaged, said, "The mining company is responsible for causing hardship to our family. The company is least bothered about human lives.

"It may be recalled that a mining disaster took place in Mulgao in July1991, in which four people had died, six people were seriously injured and 144 farmers in Vhalshi near Mulgao suffered heavy losses. (ToI)

As circulated on by Samir Umarye on Jun 9, 2009 at 9:46 PM.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Theatre dedicated to Mother Earth

A theatre performance 'for Mother Earth' is being organised by this Council on the 13th of June 2009, at Immaculate Conception Church Hall, Panjim at 6.00 p.m. This theatre has been conceptualised and directed by Hartman D'Souza and will be performed along with a group of actors from Pune. There have been a series of performances in Pune and Mumbai, and now, have come to Goa to unravel a theatre performance with a difference.

This breathtaking performance dedicated to 'Mother Earth' celebrates the earth, and points out the dire need for its security and conservation from the blatant abuse and greed of Humanity. This blend of movement and voice, encapsulates very beautifully life and living on this earth.
A performance to touch the conscience of every Human person, through revival of a dying 'art' and our sensitivity towards nature, is here for all.

Kindly share the same with family, friends and those interested. Donation Coupons are available at Champs - Panjim, Cafe Amor - Panjim, Don Boscos Oratory - Panjim and Lighthouse - Margao.

Thanking you in anticipation.
Warm Wishes,

Fr. Maverick Fernandes
Council for Social Justice & Peace (CSJP),

Institude Piedade, D. B. Marg,

Panjim, Goa - 403 001
Ph No: (0832) 2422821

Environment Day 2009 in Shirgao, Bicholim

He is 90 years old. His name is Gopal Gaonkar. With stick in his hand he climbed steps of Laree Temple in his village of Shirgao. Yet this time there was no village temple festival. It was on 5th June 2009 that people from various parts of Goa assembled in this temple to observe World Environment Day. The reason why around 150 odd assembly of people was in session in Shirgao temple was because the open cast iron ore industry has sounded death knell to the Shirgao village and several other villages in Goa. On that day people coming from far and wide shared lunch with Shirgao villagers and so exchanged thoughts on how mining has led to all-round destruction of their villages – water sources, agriculture and forest amongst the most important things. The day's theme - WATER depletion due to open cast iron ore indusry.

Gopal recalled that mining in Shirgao started in the same year that British left India – 1947. Independent was ushering in the country and dependence was beginning in Shirgao village. Shirgao village was in Goa that had different colonial masters – Portuguese. Gopal recalls “First it was bullock carts that transported the ore from our village, then came the truck and soon barges followed in the rivers.”

We did get employment and also some money then. And some in the village still get it now. But if this mining intensity continues then we won’t be able to leave at all in the village. Our village is totally destroyed. We cannot cultivate our paddy any more. Mining has destroyed our water.”

Gopal was speaking soon after songs of protests sang by everyone present with RSD veteral from Goa Devendra Khanolkar in the lead, and Laree temple priest offering special prayer to the deity for rescue of village from the clutches of mining companies.

Then there was Gajanand Gaonkar, former village Sarpanch stepped on to speak up, “Mining companies has adopted the policies of divide and rule in the village”. He further questioned Goa Pollution Control Board for not playing pro-active role in tackling pollution created by mining companies in Goa.

Dr. Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation explained that Nagpur based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has clearly reported to Goa Bench of Bombay High Court that Shirgao water bodies has dried up due to mining activities. He said the village was traditionally dependent upon the well water and it has been disrupted due to mining activities.

Shirgao has Dempos, Chowgules and Bandekar mining companies in operation that has made huge profits at the expense of Shirgao water bodies, agriculture and soil. D. Gaonkar then gave the startling statistics: 72 wells of village dried up. 5 springs of village dried up. 5 lakes of village dried up. All dried up because of mining.

Harischandra Bhise was part of the group that is battling mining industry across Goa’s border in the North – Kalne village. He categorically stated that State government has decided to sell out Sindadurg district of Maharastra to mining companies. He pointed out that happiness and health is dependent upon nature and State has decided to finish People’s happiness. He observed that Kalne village does not have problem of unemployment and there is no need of mining to generate employment. Bhise identified Rich, State and Political Leaders operating in close connivance with each other to foster anti people agenda of the mining companies. Bhise further narrated incidents of Police repression on false cases of murder filed against Kalne villagers. He said 16 people were arrested and 12 of which are bailed out while 4 are still in prison. He said villagers Satygraha in the village temple of Mauli deity continues for the past couple of months. He was supported by Ulhas Porob from his Kalne village.

Milagrina Antao from Colamb, Sanguem then shared about her village struggle against the mining companies for the past 3 years. She called upon every one to fight for the sake of Children. She also highlighted constant police repression against Colamb people to benefit mining companies. She said this year for the first time tankers have started supplying water to the Colamb village and water has started depleting deeper. She also disclose that there are attempts to bury their paddy fields by landlord to benefit mining companies. She called for fearless struggle against mining companies in Goa.

Rama Velip also from Colamb shared about threat to wildlife due to mining in the forest areas. He shared the example of Bison falling in the well while drinking water and dying. He said because natural springs in the forest have dried up due to mining wild animals are forced to search water in the village wells. He said medicinal plants are also threatened due to mining. He demanded that mines in Goa be closed down.

Devidas Gaonkar from Khotigao pointed out that mining companies are indulging in the abuse of money power and State power. He observed that Goa’s long term happiness lies without mining.

K. Stalin from Baga, Calangute shared his experience of working with tribals in USA who are also struggling for water. He urged people to resist mining companies deisire to displace people.

Swati Kerker of Keri, Ponda declared that struggle is a must in contemporary times. She said mining companies are causing immense harm to nature. Nature, she said is a God.

Mrs. Patkar from Banda, Maharastra expressed her Solidarity with the struggle.

Ulhas Gaonkar from Morpilla challenged the State government to acquire land and give to Goa’s tribal people for agriculture instead of destroying it by mining.

Sujit Kumar Dongre expressed his concerns for depleting of water due to mining acitivies.

Adv. Thalman Pereira reflected on the statement by Vishwasrao Chowgule in 1972 on the eve of strike by the workers on Chowgule mine in Shirgao that Chowgule’s can afford to close to close down the mine as it has earned wealth that is enough for his next 60 generations. Pereira felt mining companies are abusing the villages ecologically as well as economically. He then raised the question of funding of village temple by mining companies.

One of the former temple committee members D. Gaonkar present disclosed that One Crore twenty lakh rupees to the temple has been raised by public donations. While mining companies has contributed rupees thirty lakh as donation. Gaonkar futher held that temples are of no value in the village if village itself is going to be swallowed by the mining companies and its identity eroded.

Sebastian Rodrigues, Convenor of Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) urged the gathering to be ready for new struggle as the Central government is planning to further delete mandatory requirements of public hearing for mining companies. He also felt that consumers need to be made sensitive about consumption of metals for which mines are dug all over the World.

Teacher, Ramesh Gauns exploded the myth that mining is the backbone of Goa’s economy though his typical story of a Shrigao Crow that reached China to find out where the Shirgao soil is going. He questioned the fate of Sanguem as it has 295 mining leases.

Program ended with a symbolling pouring of water by Laree temple priest in the “Akoaranchem Tollem” water lake that is dried up due to mining in front of the Temple that is known for thousands of Dondhs - devotees coming from all over Konkan region for famous Shirgao Zatra and offer the test of fire by literary walking through fire. And in his speech Ramesh Gauns was clear in his comment: This year (2009) Goa chief Minister Digambar Kamat came for the Zatra and carried pieces of wood on his head to be dumped into for fire Homkand; what Chief Minister however forgot that these piece of wood and mountains of Shirgao are linked together. But Mr. Kamat as Chief Minister and Mines Minister has gifted away the State Mountains for mining companies to raze down and permanently finish villages like Shirgao forever.

Formally, this meeting was called by Shirgao Environment Day Committee and supported by various mines affected people, Organisations - GOAMAP, GBA, GAKUVED, Goa Foundation, Bailancho Saad etc and concerned citizens like Govind Potekar, Durgadas Gaonkar, Minguel Braganza etc from all over Goa.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tribal issue: cancellation of mining leases sought

Herald June 01, 2009


HERALD REPORTERPANJIM, MAY 31Demanding immediate cancellations of mining leases which affect livelihood of Tribals, the People’s Tribunal on Sunday observed that the area which the mining companies claim to have leases or concession, is mostly inhabited by the tribals.

The People's Tribunal on Restoration of Tribal Homelands in Goa, organised by the Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation, held its hearing at Menezes Braganza hall, under the chairmanship of Justice Hosbet Suresh.“We have heard about 60 submissions from different parts of Goa in the last two days and it is clear from their testimonies that there is a concerted effort to deprive the tribals of their land, their home, their sources of livelihood and above all their human dignity,” Justice Suresh told reporters after the conclusion of the hearing.

Further pointing out at the mining industry, he said, “The area which the mining companies claim to have mining leases/concession is mostly inhabited by the tribals.”“Though the tribals do not have titles in some cases, they are in actual possession,” he added.He said the existence of tribals is at stake with the operationalisation of mining leases.“The mining leases of the mines that affect the very lives and livelihood of the tribals require to be cancelled,” said Justice Suresh.Moreover claiming that the various tribal communities have a long tradition of environmental balance, the Tribunal also felt that finalising the Draft RP 2021 would be illegal without the consent of the Gram Sabha’s.

“The fields, khazans, plateaus, forests and water bodies have been nurtured and preserved by the tribals whose livelihoods are sustainable and harmonious with nature,” he said.However, Justice Suresh continued, “irresponsible mining, indiscriminate industrialisation (SEZs) and haphazard real estate development have been responsible for attack on the lands, lives and livelihoods of the very tribals who have been the custodians of Goa's environment.”

“Therefore, every planning and development exercise should include the restoration of the land use based on traditional rights of the tribals on Goa's land,” he said adding “The government's Regional Plan 2021 cannot be said to be legal without the conduct of “gram sabha” meetings and the constitution and deliberations of the gram sabha as visualised under the Forest Right Act-2006 with regard to planning of community resources.”

Adv Caroline Collaso, Dr Wandana Sonalkar and Adv Albertina Ameida were the other members of the Jury.