Sunday, July 19, 2009

Extend time and hold local level consultations: Round Table on Goa Police Bill

That the House Committee must seek extension of time for eliciting suggestions on the Goa Police Bill and must have informed hearings at village and taluka levels and submit a reasoned report, was the consensus at a State-level Round Table on the Goa Police Bill organised in the city today. This demand came in the light of the testimonies from participants about their experiences with the police as also their concerns about the police, none of which was reflected in the Police Bill. The Round Table organised by Citizens Initiatives for Communal Harmony drew the participation of representatives of women’s , children’s rights, tribal, youth and minority groups, trade unions, organizations working on local self-governance, civic issues, informal workers’ groups, non-Government organizations, and educational institutions, besides lawyers and other concerned citizens.

Mr. Karl Pinto e Souza, stated that it was necessary to look at whose interests the police force serves and also to look at what access is available to vulnerable and differently abled sections of society to access the police. He questioned the prejudices in the bill which make uncalled for assumptions about the criminality of tenants and migrants while completely overlooking gated communities with their mega-facilities and clout. Retired Defense service officer John Eric Gomes observed that there were several ambiguities and contradictions in the Goa Police Bill and no provisions for citizens to be able to complain at a police station of their comfort.

Referring to the series of unearthed murders of women Ms. Auda Viegas of Bailancho Ekvott suggested that the police should maintain written records and have data maintenance systems as regards the work being done by them and the crimes recorded by them. Ms. Viegas further opined that politically motivated transfers must stop as this deters effective investigations. Dr. Narayan Dumo pointed out that the ground of ‘administrative exigency’ set out in the Goa Police Bill to justify transfers was too vague, while also drawing attention to the inhuman working terms for the police which he stated must also be addressed through this Bill. Mr. Reggie Gomes also stressed the need for an independence from politicians both in the recruitment and functioning of police.

Ms. Madhuri Rao of Family Counselling Centre of All India Women’s Conference made a case for putting an obligation for compensation by police for dereliction of their duty to register complaints, besides stating that the police were hesitant to consider counselors at the police station which could have facilitated complainants. Mr. Pranab Mukhopadhyay also stated that provisions must be built in to ensure that police do not shirk their responsibility to register complaints. Mr. Anthony D’Silva of Ambelim remarked on the right of a complainant to get their complaint registered in a language which they understand.

Mr. Pravin Sabnis of Goa Bachao Abhiyan stated that law and order is a vague term and that protection was being afforded to violators in the name of averting a law and order situation generated by the very violators, complaints against whom were not being taken up. A common refrain at the Round Table was the failure of the police to register complaints of the lay man and woman even as false complaints were registered by the police against those who were questioned the illegalities of certain corporate interests and the corruption and hafta collection and mafiasation of the police. Experiences in this regard were shared by Mr. Rama Velip of Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED), Mr. Mahesh Naik of Jai Damodar Association, Mr. Laurie Abranches of United Goans Welfare Front. Ms. Sunita Mulgaonkar representing Tribes of Goa also wondered whether police protection was meant for perpetrators of crimes giving an instance where a perpetrator of a serious crime against a tribal domestic help was afforded protection.

Mr. Rahul Tripathi of the Department of Political Science, Goa University, emphasized the importance of human rights education as part and parcel of police training and education, while also pointing out the need for defined roles for state and central police agencies. Ms. Sumita Sawant Desai spoke of the need for priority in the police curriculum of education about traffic and redressal of important people’s concerns. Mr. Soter D’Souza of Centre for Panchayati Raj stated that the police must be at the service of the citizens to ensure their effective political participation including at the gram sabha in order to protect themselves from the disruption of these gram sabhas by organised goons. Mr. Vidyadhar Gadgil of CICH stated that the Government was not serious even about implementing its own one-man inquiry report into the Guddemol riots where police sensitization for dealing with communal tensions was recommended. The communalization of the police force also came for sharp criticism from the participants.

Mr. Sebastian Rodrigues of MAND remarked that there was a hype created around “security” in the Goa Police Bill and questioned whose security this was intended to provide for. Participants also questioned yet another SEZ formation visualized through the Goa Police Bill in the name of Special Security Zones where ordinary policing would not apply. Adv. Thalmann Pereira observed that the very concept of policing needed to have been changed after freedom from the colonial yoke where police action was directed towards security for the rich and powerful and against vulnerable peoples and peoples whose vulnerable interests are being subordinated. Adv. Pereira called for people’s participation at various levels in ensuring effective policing. Participants called for effective independent mechanisms in the legislation both to monitor and to hold the police accountable . Mr. Moses Fernandes remarked that there must also be active civil liberties forums at people’s levels to monitor functioning of police so that there is effective regulation of policing.

Representatives of Ganv Ghor Rakhonn Manch and Consumer Forums who were unable to be present also sent in their suggestions.

Albertina Almeida
Ramesh Gauns

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Goa's Secret Police Harass Rama Velip

Over the past two weeks Rama Velip of Colamb village in Sanguem Taluka is being harassed by Goa's Secret Police - CID (Criminal Intelligence Department). Secret police has been visiting the house of Rama Velip and seeks to know about future plans of anti-mining movement.

There are phone calls made at Rama Velip's residence at very odd hours in the night and ask him to report to Quepem Police Station.

Rama Velip is heading Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Fedearation (GAKUVED) unit under the jurisdiction of Rivona Panchayat and in the middle of resistance movement against mining in Sanguem and Quepem Talukas of South Goa.

CID officer who is involved in harassing Rama Velip is one Premanand Phaldessai attached to Quepem Police Station. He hails from Sanvordem and according to the sources his family members are involved in business of transportation of Iron Ore through ownership of trucks.

Fomento Mine water in Colamb escapes into Agricultural fields

Colamb agriculture is facing the problem of run off of polluted water from Fomento mine in Colamb. Around 2,500 people staying in Colamb Sanguem are affected due to number of marauding mining companies.
Sebastian Rodrigues

Peacock on Colamb Hill

Picture shows Peacock sitting on Colamb mountain. There evergreen western Ghats forest is under threats from various mining companies like Fomentos, Salgaoncar, Raissa Mining Company, Panandikar etc.. The villagers of Colamb has declared there opposition along with number of Concerned People in different parts of Goa and even outside Goa. People are united in defence of Forest, Agriculture and Wildlife. India's National Bird - Peacock is symbol of this situation.
Sebastian Rodrigues

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goa's Forest department accused conivance with mining companies

The villagers of Colomba, Rivona and adjoining villages accused the government official including officials of Forest department of being in connivance with the mining companies in destroying the Forest area and environment at a Public Hearing called by the Goa Pollution Control Board in respect of two mines at Rivona on Wednesday July 15, 2009.

That allegation of the of the public seems to be hold good as though the officials of Forest department were present for the public hearing on Wednesday at Rivona and inspite of the fact that vast track of rich Forest land including cashew plant developed under Goa Forest development corporation comes within both the mining leases the forest officials did not bother to raised any objection inspite of giving opportunity by the presiding officer.

“As we have given them a written notice to the forest department that for the first time their officials remained present for a public hearing today. In the past for every hearing held in Quepem and sanguem taluka they remained absent inpite of the fact they their land comes within the mining lease" informed Motes Antao of Colomba.

Attacking the government machinery of puppets of the mining Rama Velip of Colomba stated that False cases are filed against him and other anti mining villagers of Colomba and such five cases have been filed before Sanguem Court. He further stated that are being pressurized using Government machinery including the Dept. of Mines.

Xavier Fernandes accused the P.I. of Quepem Santosh Dessai, Dy-Collector of Quepem Venancio Furtado and South Goa Collector Shri G.P. Naik as agents of mining companies. "These official who get kickbacks from the mining companies are harassing the agitators to satisfy their mining boses. The Forest department officials are hand and glove with the mine owners and do not protect the Reserve Forest land the Wild Life Sanctuaries" Fernandes remarked.

"Government does not protect the common mans right but protects the rights of the mine owners and their 5 star hotels, even to the extend of amending the Century old Legislations, which is a murder of democracy" he firther noted.

John Fernandes

Villagers of Rivona , Colomba opposes renewal of mining leases

The villagers of Rivona in large number including the sarpanch and other panchayat members opposed the Public Hearing conducted on Wednesday by the Goa Pollution control board at Rivona in respect of Zambea Moll iron and manganese ore mine of Roque Santana Barneto, T.C. no. 25/52, Survey nos.- Private – 58, 59, 61 – Govt. 62, 65, Village Rivona, Sanguem Taluka and in respect of Vagha Ghol iron ore and manganese ore mine of M/s Vagha Minerals Pvt. Ltd., M.L. no. 6/Fe-Min/69, Survey no. 11 (P), Village Maina, and parts of Survey no. 19, 109, 115 to 117, 126, 127, Village Rivona, Sanguem Taluka.

The Public Hearing is conducted as per the Revised Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification dated 14/09/06 which was presided over by Addl. Collector - I, South Goa, Shri Prasanna Acharya and Goa Pollution control board Environmental Engineer Rajendra Kamat. The hearing was attended by around 300 villagers from Rivona, Colomba and other adjoining villages. The following villagers raised their objections.

Mrs. Gitanjali G. Naik Sarpanch, Village Panchayat Riviona opposing the mine stated that Nearly 200 families would be affected .There are temples and caves of historic importance which shall be disturbed by the proposed mining activities.Afforestation as promised is not done. The Panchayat will oppose the mining activity.

Shri Chandrakant Rivonkar a local teacher opposing the mine stated that the report submitted by the company is not credible. There are Pandava cases within 200 metres whereas the report says there are no protected sites within 10 kms radius.There is no place to dump the mining rejects. The noise pollution caused will be more than 50 decibels and not the one mentioned in the report. The company uses blasting technique for mining which fact is not mentioned in the report from of its rejection. Mining activity will affect residential houses. The health of the locals will be affected including hearing defects. There is a perennial source of water but does not find a mention in the report. The area is rich in flora and fauna but the report mentions that there is no plantation. Backfilling is not done by any mining company and the assurance given by the mining company is false.

Shri Salvador Dias, Colomba opposing the mine stated River Kushawati is within the radius of 500 metres of the proposed mine.

Dr. Avdhut Prabhudessai stated that Mining activities in locality are not done with the aim of sustainable development but to satisfy the greed of the mine owners. At present three mines are in operation and more mining activities in the area will increase density of traffic on the existing roads which will affect the safety of the locals and their property. He further state that mining activity should be done in phase wise manner i.e first only one or two mines need to be mined after the same are exhausted then they need to be carried and needs to be afforested and other areas for mine needs to be explored. New viral diseases have been detected in the locality which is the off shot of the mining activity.The wild life natural habitat is disturbed by mining area as such they come in the villages and destroy the cultivation. Medicinal plants of the locality will be destroyed which are used by the local Ayurvedic practitioner. He exhibited the proposed Regional Plan of the State Govt. of Rivona Panchayat of Sanguem Taluka. He showed the existing three mines on the Regional mine and showed how the green forest cover shown in that plan shall be erased from the said plan because of the proposed application for renewal of the mine which is a protected Reserved forest and no development slope. The people of the locality so also the mine workers especially the children are affected with respiratory problems like asthma. The proposed mine is in close proximity with the settlement area and as such this proposal should not be granted Environmental Clearance.

Shri Rama Velip an agriculturist from Colomba and an active anti mining agitator opposing both the mine stated that The proposed mining activity would be against the Environment Protection Act, the Air Act, the Water Act and the Forest Conservation Act Western Ghats would be destroyed by the mining hence, no Environmental Clearance should be given. He also stated that some of the survey holding in which renewal of mining lease is asked are identified as private forest by the Karapurkar and Sawant Committee. The Schedule Tribe population is not shown in the report which is the majority population of the locality who are dependent on agriculture. He accused the mining Industry being responsible for global warming.

Shri Xavier Fernandes opposing the mines stated that the report submitted by the company is false and baseless. That the ore is not transported properly as such, it is adding to dust pollution in the locality. The people from the locality are exploited and made to suffer because of pollution caused by mining. That Within the buffer zone there are many Schools including High Schools, but the same is not reflected in the E.I.A report. He further stated that No mining pits of exhausted mine are filled and as such this assurance given by the mining company is false and hence Environmental Clearance should not be given.

Shri Vinod Devidas stated that he resides adjacent to the proposed mine and stated that Health of his and his family members is affected by the existing mines

Mr. Motes Antao stated that Since the mine owners pollute and exploit the farming areas, mining activity should be nationalized for protecting the environment and for sustainable development.

Though the an official from the Department of Forest was present for the Hearing and inspite of giving an opportunity was given to him to present their case, but no explanation nor objection raised even though vast tract of governemtn rich Forest and Cashew land comes within the both the mining leases. 365 written applications were received against the mine.

John Fernandes

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Operation of Mines at Dhave opposed

Gomantak Times July 11 2009 Panjim

Villagers threaten to storm public hearing fixed for today

Villagers of Nagargao have opposed operation of an iron ore mine in survey nos 18, 20, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 19 at Dhave-Sattari and are bent on disrupting the conduct of a “Public Hearing” schedule here for today.

“We have decided to intensify the agitation against the mine,” the Mining Virodhi Samiti member Ashok Joshi, said.

On an earlier occasion too, the same mine owner had attempted to operate it, but was foiled. It is learnt that the mine owner is still continuing efforts to start operating the mine.

The samiti members have decided not to allow the public hearing which has been convened today…. at the Shantadurga temple, Dhave.

Most part of Sattari taluka has been virtually taken over by the mine owners, except perhaps, Nagargao and nearby areas.

If the mine owners take control over other areas in Nagargao, the natural wealth of Sattari would be destroyed, feel the anti-mining activists.

Hence, 12 years ago the villagers had agitated over the attempt to start the same mine and driven away the mine owner along with his machinery.

It is leant that the site where the mine is planned to be operated in Brahmakarmali village in survey nos 21 and 64 comes within the Mhadei sanctuary’s jurisdiction and there exists a reserved forest area just a kilometre ahead. Villagers are surprised over the government’s willingness to grant permission in such an area.

“If the mine starts operating in Dhave, besides causing destruction to orchards, Valpoi city from where the ore will have to be transported, will also be affected and the Valpoi Municipal Council will strongly oppose it,” Joshi said.

Joshi further said, a meeting will be held within two days to oppose the mine.

Friday, July 10, 2009


‘I met my Indian mother
She was staggering through iron rain
She said The Earth turned into a monster
Eating everything we had all that’s left is pain
Now I believe that charity begins at home
And home in my case is Kent
But I was feeling generous so I took my week’s wages
And slipped her point five per cent.’
From ‘Sweet Point Fiver Per Cent’ by Adrian Mitchell

In the Eastern Indian State of Orissa Iron ore, Chromite, Manganese, Coal and Aluminium mines have displaced tens of thousands of poor villagers over the last 20 years. Multinational mining companies have wiped out forests, poisoned rivers, siphoned-off spectacular waterfalls, destroyed and degraded the quality of life for the local population and left behind a trail of terrible environmental and human devastation. Vedanta Alumina Ltd, a subsidiary of M/S Sterlite Industries India Ltd, is one such mining company. Vedanta plans to exploit the Bauxite reserve located on top of the Niyamgiri hills in the drought prone Kalahandi district of Orissa. After signing a joint lease with Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd (OMC) in October 2004, Vedanta plans to set up an Alumina Complex, Refinery Plant and captive power plant on top of the Niyamgiri hills using up around 1445 hectares of land, most of which is prime ‘Reserve Forest’ land. In April 2009, the Indian government granted permission to Vedanta and OMC to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills for the next 25 years.

This article aims to summarise Vedanta’s infamous track record in following environmental laws, insensitivity to the rights of indigenous communities and violation of basic Human Rights. Every crime has its benefits and a Cost-Benefit analysis is outlined below to help us decide whether Vedanta’s Aluminium mining activities will be beneficial or disastrous for the local population of the Niyamgiri hills, for the state of Orissa and for the Environment.

· Vedanta’s mining will have catastrophic effects on the fragile Ecological balance of the Niyamgiri hills and on the Ecosystem of the Kalahandi district of Orissa, one of the poorest districts of India. Evergreen forests, Grasslands and other priceless wildlife habitats will be lost forever.
· Hundreds of thousands of people fully depend on the mighty rivers, which originate from the Niyamgiri hills. Vedanta’s mining will lead to three vitally important rivers- Kolab, Nagabali and Vamsadhara- losing their water sources and being heavily polluted. Scores of perennial mountain-streams, on which the Dongria hill tribes are completely dependent, will be dried up.
· Bauxite, the mineral Vedanta is mining, is described as a “sponge” by Geologists because of its water-holding capacity. With the extraction of the Bauxite reserves in Niyamgiri the few poisoned rivers which remain will contain only a fraction of their current volumes of water.
· This loss and poisoning of these rivers and streams will be devastating in this extremely drought prone Indian district. The local hill population and hundreds of thousands of people downstream will lose their traditional livelihoods of farming, fishing, keeping livestock etc. For example the toxic waste dumped by Vedanta’s Lanjigarh Refinery into the mighty Vamshadhara River has evidently affected thousands of people who use this river water for household use, agriculture and for their domestic animals.
· Toxic Red Mud and Ash ponds have ruined fertile agricultural lands, contaminated drinking water sources and polluted the air around villages and forest hamlets. Toxic mud released into the Vamshadhara River has had severe health effects on the local people and wildlife. An alarming rise in skin diseases, asthma, gastro-enteritis, terminal illnesses, miscarriages and frequent nausea has been recorded in the region. Over 40 villages have been devastated by the ‘fly-ash’ pollution, which is causing lung-diseases, destroying crops and turning the once fertile agricultural land into a sterile waste-land.
· During Monsoon floods rivers are easily contaminated with the toxic red mud, which is created after the refining of Alumina and which contains a lethal cocktail of heavy metals and Caustic Soda. Even without a flood this red mud leaches into the ground and poisons the ground water or turns into dust and is easily spread around for hundreds of miles, rendering the land infertile and toxic and leading to horrible diseases including cancer.
· To put Vedanta’s water consumption in this drought prone region into context, 1 ton of Steel consumes 44 tons of water but 1 ton of Aluminium consumes 1378 tons of water!
· Endangered wildlife species will be affected. Vedanta’s activities along the Orissa coastline will disturb the precious Olive Ridley Turtles who lay their eggs on the shore. The Golden Gecko, an endangered lizard, lives in the Niyamgiri hills and may be lost forever. Rare varieties of deer, monkeys and hyenas will be made homeless.
· Ignoring all these unimaginable, unmeasured costs, let us just value the forests, which will be wiped out. Based on the handbook of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India, the Environmental Net Present Value of 1 hectare of fully stocked forest is Rupees 126.74 lakhs over 50 years. Vedanta will be clearing 660 hectares of prime forest land. Even assuming an extremely low density of forest cover the Net Present Value is Rupees 417 crores. Add to this the forest-cover in non-“Reserved Forest” land and the total cost of forests lost is Rupees 448 crores.
· Based on UK Govt figures on the cost of Carbon-dioxide emissions 1 ton of Co2 emitted costs between $56 and $223. Even if we used the minimum rate of $56 per ton of Co2 emitted, Vedanta’s Co2 emission cost will be 63 crores annually. So the Net Present Value of Vedanta’s Co2 emission over 23 years is 653 crores.
· So the total financially quantifiable cost is about Rupees 1100 crores, just based on the deforestation and the Carbon-dioxide emission. Keep in mind that this quantification is considerably underestimated. Also keep in mind that this quantification DOES NOT take into account the emission of Sulphur Dioxide and other poisonous gases. Nor does it take into account the water and fly-ash pollution costs, the destruction of crops and arable land, infliction of diseases and illness, the damage caused to a variety of rare wildlife species and the absolute annihilation of the ancient tribal culture, which has survived for centuries in these densely forested hills. Most of the devastation, inflicted by Vedanta, is financially non-quantifiable.
· Vedanta’s Bauxite mine will rip through the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondhs, belonging to an ancient tribal civilization, who have lived fully self-sufficient, ecologically sustainable lives in the Niyamgiri hills for centuries, in complete harmony with the mountains, the forests, the rivers.
· Vedanta’s so called ‘Greenfield’ Alumina Refinery in Lanjigarh has displaced several tribal villages and threatens to displace more people. Not only will the bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills wreck the traditional Dongria Kondh way of life, it will also literally destroy their Gods. The Niyam Dongar is their sacred mountain, source of fertility and Lord of Law. Niyam Dongar’s destruction in Orissa will be as horrendous a cultural atrocity as the destruction of the Balmiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
· The Anthropological effects are cataclysmic. Tribal society will be violently split into those for and against the mining. Mutual trust and support among the villagers will be damaged with petty cash compensations, fraudulent business offers and false charges lodged by the police against those who are reluctant to be displaced. Villages will be bulldozed without basic rehabilitation facilities in place and the forcibly displaced population will be abandoned in inhumane conditions in shanty-town concentration camps, ironically called ‘Relief Centres’.
· The delicate social structure will be torn apart by displacement. Traditional economic systems and the Kinship system will collapse. Splits in long standing relationships will appear between those who accept the pittance paid as compensation and move on and those who resist. The Egalitarian power structure is fractured and religious values are irreversibly undermined with the pulverising of their sacred mountains and forests.
· Already the social costs of displacement and the invasion by an alien industry has led to a sharp increase in illegal liquor shops, domestic abuse, violence, drunkenness, wife beating and suicides. The Liquor mafias are proliferating even as the social structure is crumbling away and religious and cultural values are being desecrated.
· Construction of Vedanta’s smelter in Jharsaguda is displacing more villages. Vedanta’s “Gift to Orissa”- a Business School and University near Puri- will displace around 100,000 farmers from fertile farmland near the coast and create mass unemployment. Much of this arable land is owned by Puri’s famous Jagannath temple and much of its produce is currently used for the legendary Mahaprasad temple-manna.
· These social costs, like most of the environmental costs, CANNOT be financially quantifiable and so have NOT been included in the grossly underestimated figure of Rupees 1100 crores, which only represents the costs of deforestation and Carbon-dioxide emission!

‘...Overall the state (of Orissa) and the people will suffer the loss, only a small class of rich people will be created. Rich will become richer, poor poorer. Mining is a curse to the indigenous people and the environment’
Kishen Pattnayak


· Vedanta’s plans in Niyamgiri have been officially condemned. The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court of India has recommended that in their view “Use of forest land in an ecologically sensitive area like the Niyamgiri Hills should NOT be permitted.” The CEC point out that the land Vedanta is going to acquire is “an important wildlife habitat, part of elephant corridor, a proposed Wildlife Sanctuary, having dense virgin forest, residence of an endangered Dongaria Kandha tribe and source of many rivers and rivulets.”
· For years Vedanta and other mining multinationals have been lobbying and pressurising the Indian Government to NOT implement the Forest Rights Act. The Forest Rights Act favours the indigenous population of the forests who have been living on the land for millenniums in a civilization, which is more ancient than Hinduism and the Pharaohs. With this Act incapacitated priceless dense forest land has been seized for mining activities in the districts of Koraput, Kalahandi and Bolangir.
· Vedanta invested large sums of money in the election campaigns of certain politicians for the State Assembly and recent General Elections. Outrageous leniency has been shown by the Government and Courts in response to Vedanta’s shameless repeated violations of the law, for example their blatant disregard for the law in setting up and opening an Aluminium Smelter in Jharsuguda in spite of not receiving the statutory Environmental Clearance. A Supreme Court Judge went on record to say “Vedanta must be a good company. Why I myself have shares in Vedanta!”
· To date several hundred people have been killed in working accidents in Vedanta’s Lanjigarh Refinery because of Vedanta’s criminal negligence in Health & Safety precautions. The displaced local population, who have lost their traditional livelihoods, are made to beg for temporary contract jobs and in many cases contract labourers were paid after agonising delays or not paid the wages they were promised and on occasions they were not paid at all. Vedanta has brutally crushed any unrest among workers and in December 2000 the notorious Maikanch police firing killed 3 innocent villagers.
· Because the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) is a party to the lease Vedanta has managed to acquire and clear prime official ‘Reserve Forest’ land. They have also illegally occupied village land and have criminally built a wall in the ‘Reserve Forest’ demarcating the land they have captured. Rampant deforestation of this area continues despite valiant efforts by the villagers to protect their forest.
· Vedanta has violated a number of Pollution Guidelines as laid down by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Govt of India. The CEC committee of the Supreme Court had recommended that Vedanta stopped its illegal construction of a Refinery in Lanjigarh. In spite of not receiving the mandatory Environmental Clearance and being condemned by the CEC Vedanta has brazenly gone ahead with its construction and mining work.
· The Orissa State Pollution Control Board has issued more than 3 notices to Vedanta for violating pollution norms at its Lanjigarh Refinery. Inspection documents reveal leakages from the ‘Storage Pond’ into the Vamshadhara River, which is the lifeline for tens of thousands of people.
· Instead of trying to rectify these criminal failings Vedanta boasts of being a “Zero Discharge Refinery”. This is an obscene lie as the term ‘Zero Discharge’ implies that no pollutants are discharged and all the wastes are recycled. But there is indisputable documented proof that Vedanta is discharging some of the most toxic industrial wastes in the subcontinent, including sulphides, caustic soda and acids.
· Another absurd lie comes from Mukesh Kumar, head of Vedanta’s mining operations in Lanjigarh, who told the BBC that “Far from drying up streams, (removal of bauxite) will in fact lead to an increase in the ground water level.” This perversely illogical statement has been vehemently dismissed by geologists, farmers and just about anyone with any common sense.
· Vedanta’s parent company Sterlite has been charged with ‘Conscious Lack of Pollution Control’ in their Copper Smelter plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. The charges against them include illegal construction, Ash and Gypsum dumping and Air and Water pollution. Furthermore their factory complex had NO license to be constructed and they did NOT have ‘Consent to Establish’ under the ‘Water and Air Acts’.
· Vedanta’s subsidiary company Madras Aluminium Company (MALCO) was forced to suspend its illegal mining operations in the Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu in November 2008 following a petition filed in Madras High Court, which presented evidence that its bauxite mines were NOT permitted under Environmental laws.

‘The mining that is taking place in the forest areas is threatening the livelihood and survival of many tribes...Let it not be said by future generations that the Indian Republic has been built on the destruction of the green earth and the innocent tribal people who have been living there for centuries.’
From President of India’s speech on Republic Day 2001


· Vedanta is an enthusiastic patron of Orissa Dance and Music festivals! It’s “gift to Orissa” includes a hospital, a University and a Business School. Many observers perceive these investments by Vedanta as a cunning Business Strategy while it seeks access to the Niyamgiri Bauxite reserves.
· Because of the crucial lease with the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) Vedanta will be obtaining Bauxite at only 16% of the actual market value! This results in Vedanta receiving a subsidy from India, on the free market price of Bauxite, in the region of 6132 crores!
· Because of the ‘Purchase Clause’ in this lease with the OMC, Vedanta pays Orissa a ridiculously underpriced Royalty instead of the market price of Alumina. If the Niyamgiri Bauxite was sold in the open market it would have fetched an income of around 7300 crores but because of this appalling lease Orissa will be paid a Royalty and Cess with a Net Present Value of 193 crores only!
· Vedanta plans to employ 300 employees leading to salaries of 160 crores over 25 years. So the Total benefits for the local population and the state is around 353 crores.
· Of course Vedanta is very keen to portray itself as being very popular with the local community. Children of families displaced by the Lanjigarh Refinery are taught to sing propagandist songs whenever journalists or investigative teams visit. The lyrics of one such song goes- “This country, this earth, is our mother. We will sacrifice ourselves in service of it, And make our nation proud of us.”


· From a purely financial perspective and just considering the grossly underestimated costs of deforestation and Carbon-dioxide emission the costs come to 1100 crores compared to the benefit of 353 crores, Vedanta is promising. So just these significantly underestimated quantifiable costs are more than 3 times higher than the optimistic benefits, which Vedanta has been boasting about.
· As explained above this comparison does NOT take into account the social costs, the loss of rare species and bio diversity, death of rivers and streams, pollution of soil and air, opportunity cost of destroying the Niyamgiri hills and not preserving these natural resources for future generations instead of monstrously exploiting them. For example the value of the 30,000 cum of water, which is lifted out of the Tel river each day for Vedanta’s Refinery, has NOT been financially measured. Also the actual Market Value of Bauxite has NOT been considered. What percentage of this 353 crores benefit will trickle through to the local population is highly questionable.
· In May 2007, Vedanta’s lawyers at the Indian Supreme Court began offering free meals and jobs to the displaced people as compensation. These legal promises were not honoured afterwards. Vedanta carefully publicises its ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ in 60 glossily illustrated pages in its Annual General Report 2006. However like in other parts of India (e.g. Chhatisgarh) the large population made unemployed by displacement and the devastation of the Ecosystem may lead to most tribal people being hired as contract workers with virtually no workers’ rights, inhumane working conditions and ridiculously low salaries. So the rhetorical benefits of falsely promised free meals and jobs need to be compared with the destitution and poverty of people who were fully self sufficient farmers before their traditional food security and way of life was destroyed.
· Since Aluminium is used in Defence for manufacturing Weapons, Bombs etc, we could mention “The National Interest” and the “Greater Common Good”. However Vedanta will be exporting most of its Aluminium to other countries and most of its major shareholders are multinationals outside India. Vedanta’s track record of returning profits to its mining enclaves is very poor.
· So will the quality of life for the local population really improve or are they being “sacrificed for the Greater Common Good”? If they are then is such a sacrifice really an acceptable cost? And is such a callous Environmental catastrophe acceptable for 20-25 years worth of royalties for the State Government? Should we try to figure out answers to these questions and ask other questions? Should we give a damn?

‘We are tribal farmers. We are earthworms. Like fishes that die when taken out of water, a cultivator dies when his land is taken away from him...Is it development to displace people? The people for whom development is meant, should reap benefits. After them, the succeeding generations should reap benefits. That is development. It should not be merely to cater to the greed of a few officials. To destroy the millions of year old mountains is not development.’

from Bhagavan Majhi’s interview in ‘Matiro Poko, Company Loko’ Documentary by Amarendra and Samarendra Das,2005.


· Vedanta is a Global Polluter and has been charged with ‘Environmental Negligence’ in its Copper Mines in Zambia.
· The sale of BALCO to Sterlite met stiff resistance from Workers’ Unions with allegations that BALCO’s assets had been sold for an illegally underpriced amount due to corruption and alleged payoffs into Swiss Bank Accounts. Workers would be losing their jobs and a police probe into the sale was demanded by Workers’ Union and by Members of Parliament.
· Vedanta’s mining in Korba in Chhatisgarh has violated similar environmental and human rights laws. In Koraput in Orissa, tribal villagers displaced and dispossessed by mining are in the middle of a violent battle for reclaiming their lands.
· Aluminium mining is an extremely polluting and damaging industry usually practiced in “Developing Countries” with bauxite reserves, cheap natural resources and corrupt Regulatory bodies. Mining enclaves in which the local community is struggling against Aluminium companies include places in Vietnam, Jamaica, Guinea, Ghana and Guyana.
· In Western Australia health hazards of ALCOA’s pollution have led to the famous Environment lawyer Erin Brockovich representing the local community in their legal suit against the company.


· Filmmaker Samarendra Das, Anthropologist Felix Padel and many other committed activists, Anti-mining organisations, intellectuals and professionals have been campaigning against Vedanta for many years now. Their work both within and outside India is resonant with the courageous grassroots struggle of the affected multitudes in Niyamgiri.
· On July 9, 2009 Amnesty International recommended that “The Indian Government should immediately withdraw the clearance granted to a massive mining project (Vedanta Aluminium Limited) that threatens the lives and livelihoods of a protected indigenous community living there.”
· Vedanta has been blacklisted by the ‘Ethics Council’ of the Norwegian Govt Pension Fund, with its pension fund investments divested in 2007 citing “serious malpractice and contraventions of environment norms and ethics by the Vedanta management in the past wherever they operate” and “human rights violation” and specifically cited procedural violations in procurement of environment and forest clearance for mining in the Niyamgiri hills.
· In July 2008, Martin Currie Scottish Trust Fund of Scotland also withdrew their £2.37m investment in Vedanta on grounds of “environmental and human rights violation” by Vedanta.
· The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of Supreme Court has submitted several reports highlighting irregularities and corruption of Vedanta and recommending that permission should NOT be give. These reports have been cited by the Norwegian Council of Ethics to explain why it recommended withdrawing its investments from Vedanta.
· Worldwide uproar followed Vedanta being awarded the ‘Golden Peacock Award’ by the World Environmental Foundation (WEF) in 2009. This same award was awarded to Satyam Computers in September 2008 before being withdrawn in January 2009 after senior management and the founder chairman were arrested for fraud. Coca Cola had also received this award despite severe protests on its over-extraction of ground water.
· Various concerned citizens wrote a letter to the jurors of this ‘Golden Peacock Award’ voicing their concerns and exposing Vedanta’s activities. In reply the jurors dissociated themselves from Vedanta and said that the prize decision was made beforehand by one Mr Mehra. Mr Mehra is a highly dubious London based corporate guru of whom ‘The Observer’ released an article in May 2003 called ‘The Contradictions of Madhav Mehra’!
· Over 150 organisations wrote to the jury of the ‘The Golden Peacock Award’ and demonstrations were held at the Award ceremony in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Such was the public anger that even the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and other Government officials refused to participate in this Award ceremony.
· In early 2009, in a breathtakingly beautiful non-violent protest over 10,000 villagers and concerned citizens held hands to form a 17 kilometre human chain around the Niyamgiri hills!
· Thousands of indigenous people representing over 150 anti-displacement unions, solidarity groups and villages have been protesting non-violently against Vedanta. They have submitted petitions to the District Collector, demanded a fair implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 and have been demanding the immediate cancellation of Vedanta’s mining lease.
· The famous Environmental activist Prafulla Samantara addressed a rally on World Environment Day in which villagers demanded an end to deforestation, the pollution of rivers and fertile land, the protection of the fertile top soil layer and the promotion of small scale food processing units in the region supporting the cultivation of fruits like pineapple, orange and lemon in the region.
· The indigenous population including people from so-called ‘Untouchable’ tribes have been protesting against the beggarly petty cash compensation they were paid before their villages were bulldozed. They have demanded to speak with the CEOs of the mining companies with no success. Agitation has stopped work in many instances for example in 2008 in the Utkal Aluminium plant in the Rayagada district work was stopped for 107 days due to protests.
· Families who helped Vedanta in the village-land acquisition are now opposing them and protests were launched, public hearings held and petitions submitted against Vedanta’s illegal construction of a smelter in Jharsuguda.
· Since 24 April 2009 villagers around Lanjigarh have been protesting in large numbers against Vedanta’s polluting refinery. Such were the emotions and anger against Vedanta that the public hearing was officially adjourned because of protests. Thousands of residents have submitted affidavits to the Indian Supreme Court opposing Vedanta’s Project.

‘All people are like my children, take care of their well being, especially people living in the remote areas, the tribal people.’
Rock edict of Emperor Ashoka, 273-236 B.C.



We won’t leave our land
So many police my friend
Taking us to jails
Better to mingle with our Mother Earth
Who will speak for us?
They are coming
With marching legs and arms!
They are coming to take our mountain
And use it all up in 25 years
Very clever, dear friend
Oh dear frogs and fishes of my river
Will we ever be able to blink at each other again?
We are tired of this struggle

Song of a Dongria Kondh blind folk singer


Date: 10th July 2009
Chief Conservator of Forest,
Pajnim, Goa

Deputy Conservator of Forest, (South Goa)
Margao, Goa.

Sub: Complaint against Forest Department for Public Hearings for mining in lease number 01/1961 and 17/1949 covering forest land in the villages of Colomba and Curpem in Sanguem Taluka.


This is to complaint against Forest department for remaining absent for the Public Hearings for mining in lease number 01/1961 and 17/1949 covering Forest land in the villages of Colomba and Curpem in Sanguem Taluka on 25th June 2009 held in Curpem Village.

The absence of your department clearly indicates that Forest department instead of protecting the Forest is determined to destroy the forest of Goa by failing to raise objections at the Public hearings for mining leases.

I wish to bring to your notice that the legal representative holding the rank of Deputy Conservator of Forest Mr. Milind Karkhanis has stated in his deposition before the People’s Tribunal organized by Gawda Kunbi Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) and headed by retired High Court Judge Justice Hosbet Suresh on May 31, 2009 at Menezes Braganza Hall, Panjim that it is duty of Forest department to remain present at the Public Hearing for mining purpose if Forest land is involved.

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) strongly protests and demands immediate inquiry as to why forest department failed to remain present and file objections.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

(Motesh Antao)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goa Cursed By Its Mineral Wealth

by Emily Bild, Special to CorpWatch visited Goa in the earlier half 2009 and posted this story online. Its available at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tribunal seeks cancellation of mining leases in tribal area

The Hindu, June 02, 2009

Special Correspondent

‘Existence of tribal communities in Goa is at stake because of mining’

PANAJI: A people’s tribunal on restoration of tribal homelands in Goa on Sunday sought immediate cancellation of mining leases that affect livelihood of the tribal people in the State.
The tribunal under the former judge Suresh Hospet, which held a two-day hearing here, heard 60 submissions from Goa’s Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar tribal communities. The tribunal observed that the area, which the Goan mining companies in private sector claimed to have leases or concessions, was mostly inhabited by the tribal people.

The people’s tribunal was organised by the Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation. “We have heard 60 submissions from various parts of Goa in the past two days and it is clear from their testimonies that there is a concerted effort to deprive the tribal people of their land, home, sources of livelihood and their human dignity,” Mr. Hospet told presspersons at the conclusion of the hearing on Sunday.

He said the existence of the tribal people was at stake because of mining. Though the tribal people did not have title deeds in some cases, they were in actual possession, the former judge.
“The mining leases that affect the lives and livelihood of the tribal people require to be cancelled,” he said.

The tribunal has called for a fresh look at the State Government’s draft State regional Plan 2021, a land-use plan presently under public scrutiny ahead of finalisation. The tribunal wants it to be tailored in accordance with the Provisions of the Forest Rights Act. Mr. Hospet felt that finalising the Draft RP 2021 would be illegal without the consent of gram sabhas under Forest Rights Act, 2006, with regard to planning of community resources.

He said irresponsible mining, indiscriminate industrialisation and projects such as special economic zones and haphazard real estate development had been responsible for the attack on the lands, lives and livelihoods of the tribal people who had been the custodians of coastal State’s rich environment.

Caroline Collaso, Wandana Sonalkar and Albertina Almeida participated as members of the jury.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Larthy charge on the villagers of Copelabhat without orders from Dy-Collector

The larthy charge done on the agitating villagers of copelabhat on 17/12/2008 by the Quepem police headed by P.I. Santosh Dessai is illegal and unjustifiable as there was no order for larthy charge from the Dy-Collector Venancio Furtardo.

The villager in a press note stated that they got the information from the Dy-Collector of Quepem under Right to Information Act stating that there was no order to the police for larthy charge.

With regard to the justification by south Goa Collector G.P. Naik over the larthy charge by the police on the villagers of copelabhat through a section of press the villagers claimed
that “ South Goa is unfortunate to have collector of such a caliber who justify illegalities." The press note states that "south Goa people should not be surprise if the Collector justifies every illegal acts that takes place in the near future."

The press note further reads that the Quepem police headed by Santosh Dessai done larthy on the peaceful demonstrating villagers and later arrested them . To digest the larthy charge they charge the agitators with false offences including offence under section 307 on one of the agitators. "The Quepem police headed by Santosh Dessai are the agents of the mining companies and in order to fulfill the agents duties the Quepem police are doing larthy on the peaceful citizen and books them under false offences" reads the press note further. The press note further states that "the police are the first criminals in the society."

It may be recalled that on 17/12/2008 the Quepem police larthy charged on the agitating villagers of Copelabhat who were agitating over the issue of causing dust pollution by the mining truck. However the Quepem police headed by P.I. Santosh Dessai along with Dy-Collector Venancio Furtado denied that there was larthy charge on the agitating villagers of Copelabhat but came with a stand that the villagers were just lifted and arrested. However when they were caught up in a camera and the South Goa Collector G.P. Naik through section of local press justified the larthy charge.

They demanded justice and action against the erring officers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Occupants in MLA’s car escape villagers fury

Herald 29th June 2009, Panjim

Herald Correspondent
Canacona, June 28

Fearing that some antics are making an all out effort to revive the three-decade old closed mine, furious villagers from Nuem-Khola stopped a car on Saturday reportedly belonging to an MLA on ‘an inspection mission of an abandoned mine.’

According to villagers, the four occupants of the car made good their escape by planting a cock-n-bull story to the angry villagers. But the residents warned them that they will not accept nothing than what they have demanded so far – no mine operations in their village.

A large number of villagers who had gathered and surrounded the Mitsubishi car in no time took the intruders completely off-guard. They did not allow car occupants to leave, before forcing them to reveal their names and the owner of the car, which was reportedly carrying Goa Assembly stickers on its front windshield.

It all began on Saturday at about 12.30 pm when a villager noticed a black car parked on the other side of the village and some four occupants walking to the closed mines.

It may be recalled that the government had sealed the mines in an order dated May 21, 2008 issued by Director of Mines and Geology, after villagers protest moves to restart the operations.

The villager in turn informed others and soon more villagers gathered in large numbers and virtually confronted the foursome.

The villagers, who were expecting some renewed moves after the recent Dempo’s mining rights sale to Sesa Goa and who had even expressed their fears in press in recent times, were in no mood to hear the lame excuses provided by the foursome.

According to villagers, on persistent enquiry as to their car (GA-03-H-7667) carrying a Goa Assembly sticker, a person in the car reportedly informed them that the car belongs to friend and one politician.

Villagers further said that the foursome took the excuse saying: “We had come to know and learn about various aspects of the closed mine so that an article/book can be written on the matter,” to which they found no sympathisers.

The villagers reportedly asked them rudely to leave and not to come again in the village.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, the angry villagers declared that they are not fools to accept the intruder’s theory that they are writing a book on mining and had come to know of the first hand information of a closed mine. “We know it’s a ploy by a mining lobby to test the waters at the venue,” roared about 50 people gathered at Nuem-Khola.

Khola Bachao Abhiyan President Precopio Fernandes said: “People are fed-up of government testing on our patience, as we are already burdened and fed up with CRZ notices, SEZ, RP-2021 and this fear of destroying our ecology by reviving a mine closed over three decade ago is tormenting us to no end.”

Another villager, Peter Fernandes, said: “Let all who want to play with our sentiments know that we will not allow unknown persons to intrude in our village areas.”

Its Tap water!

This is a tap water supplied to the citizens. It needs common sense to conclude that it is polluted. This water was bottled from tap in Colamb on June 23, 2009 at 9.30am. Tap water is sourced by Goa Government's Water Resouce Department from Selaulim Dam in Sanguem. Several mines run by Ministers and MLA in Goa Government such as Joaquim Alemao and Anil Salgaonkar inside the Selaulim Dam reservoir.
Sebastian Rodrigues