Sunday, August 30, 2009

CRZ and mining issues are linked, says Gauns

To make case before Union Minister


While residents from 8,500 dwellings affected by the CRZ notification are waiting to pour their cup of woes at a meeting in Verna on Sunday, award winning teacher and a strong anti-mining proponent Ramesh Gauns will make a presentation before the Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh to impress upon him that mining and CRZ issues were interlinked.

Gauns, who addressed a press conference on Saturday, said rivers, Zuari and Mandovi that have several loading points for iron ore have been facing indiscriminate dumping of ore over the years as a result of which both have got silted.

He maintained in Goa the tidal amplitude remains unchanged over a distance of about 40 km from the mouth of the river and runs into the hinterlands of the State. CRZ is applicable upto this distance and as per the notification barges dumping ore into the rivers were violating environmental norms, he stated.

Gauns said he has been given a time limit of 10 minutes to do his presentation tomorrow at the meeting where Jairam would be present. I will try my best to put this point forward, he mentioned.Further reinforcing his point he presented the Sarvan mine case in Bicholim, the only mining lease in Goa that existed on the flood-prone Bicholim River.

“The mine was not operated continuously for 20 years. Therefore, the lease should have been automatically terminated by the State Government as per the Minerals Concession Rules 1960,” he asserted. Gauns had petitioned the Delhi High Court against the order of the National Environment Appellate Authority that had dismissed his appeal against the mine. The HC directed NEAA to rehear the matter, which will come up on September 1.

He said in 1997 TERI had submitted in its report that mining companies were not following good environmental practices in Goa. If in 1997 the situation was such I can assertively say it is worse now, he maintained.

MINING POLICY: Gauns said the draft mineral policy of the State was all for the mining companies. I have analysed it and data availed by me talks of a huge number of mines, as many as over 825 mines, he added. He observed there was a total mismatch of figures as far as mining was concerned. “As per my study there are around 200 mines in operation, but the assembly reply states out of the 336 mining concession leases 163 have been given environmental clearances,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) charged that the Ministry of Environment and Forest of lavishly granting environmental clearances to mining companies in Goa.

Convenor GOAMAP Sebastian Rodrigues, who also addressed the press, demanded for cancellation of all the environmental clearances and maintain Goa’s fading countryside from the exploits of mining.

Herald August 30 2009, Panjim

Saturday, August 29, 2009

GOAMAP condemns Union ministry of Environment and Forest

Goa Federation of mines Affected People (GOAMAP) strongly condemns Indian Central Government's Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) for lavishly granting Environmental Clearances to mining companies.

GOAMAP charges MoEF of gross corruption and malpractices to favour the mining companies that are committed to Goa's ecocide - mass destruction of its nature and livelihood support systems of the People of Goa.

The case of Sarvona mining case that has come into focus wherein Environment Clearance was granted even before Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study was completed. This has been one of the grounds on which Delhi High Court has directed national appellate authority to apply its mind before dismissing appeals.

The irresponsible actions of MoEF is systematically drying up Goa's water bodies thereby setting the way for disappearance of one of the beautiful places on Planet earth known as 'Goa'.

According to the reply in the Goa State Assembly on sixth of August 2009 by State Environment minister Alex Sequira MoEF has granted Environmental Clearances (EC) given to as many as one hundred and sixty three mining leases in Goa.

GOAMAP demands that MoEF withdraws all the Environmental Clearances (EC) given to mining companies and transform Goa into mining free zone.

GOAMAP urges attention of Union Minister of Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh currently on visit to Goa to take this matter very seriously for the sake of life and life supporting systems from being destroyed by mining industry.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pollution Board tightens screws on erring mines


Acting firm on erring mines, the Goa State Pollution Control Board has asked the Forest Department to furnish information on another 74 mines whether these have obtained necessary forest and wildlife clearances as mentioned in the Forest Conservation Act.

These 74 are apart from the 13 mines which have been asked to suspend operations by the GSPCB till they furnish all the necessary clearances to operate from the departments concerned. GSPCB Chairman Simon de Souza said they have written to the Forest Department on these 74 mines and was awaiting replies from it to initiate further proceedings if required.

De Souza said they haven’t heard from any of the 13 mines that have been ordered to stop operations. This being monsoon season majority of the mines are closed and the same would start operations sometime after September, he stated.

He asserted that these 13 mines would not be allowed to operate till they furnish the necessary clearances from the Conservator of Forests and wildlife wardens.

However, according to sources, efforts are on to apply brakes on the implementation of the order of GSPCB. The mining lobby is surprised that the new Board of GSPCB unlike the previous one, has shown pro-active approach in acting against erring mines. Despite pressures, the Environment Minister Aleixo Sequeira has given a go-ahead for action against mines violating statutory laws.

Meanwhile, the GSPCB has also asked the Forest Department to inform them on another 12 mines whether these had necessary forest and wildlife clearances to operate. The question of these mines was raised by Curtorim MLA Reginaldo Lourenco in the Assembly session.

On one of the 12 mines – TC No 1/58 mining lease by Ana Bertha Rego in Dhavem, Satteri – the public hearing was cancelled.

The remaining 11 mines are: TC No 1/51 (Deva Dongor) run by Salim Shaikh in Maina Village; TC No 59/51 (Tembeche Dongor) run by Jairam Negi; TC No 12/53 (Bategal) run by Vaikunt Kadnekar in Maina Village; TC No 28/52 Chinumol Iron Ore of Shantilal Kushaldas & Bros in Main Village; TC No 10/51 Haider Kasim Khan in Caurem, Pirla Panchayat; TC No 84/53 Damodar Mangalji & Co in Colomba village; TC No 80/59 (Caremol) run by Mangaldas Jaising in Caurem Pirla village; TC No 3/51 (Dempo) at Curpem in Vaddem Panchayat; TC No 65/51 (Polo Dongor) run by Ms G F Figueiredo; TC No 18/56 at Colomba Village run by Mazook Kadar and TC No 75/52 Chunimola Mines of Ajit Kadnekar.

Herald, Panjim August 28 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Towards making Goa's mining sites tourism destinations

On August 14 2009 was the inaugural day of Festival of Plants and flowers at SFX School in my village of Siolim. Schools from various parts of Bardez participated. Special theme this year of this festival was Goa's Open cast iron ore industry. Various schools participated in the program. My attention was caught by the modelling prepared and demonstrated by two high school students from St.Mary's high School, Mapusa. They had prepared two models. One tagged as '2009' demonstrated exiting open cast mine digging deep into the mountain. The second one tagged as '2034' demonstrated same mine full of greenery though depression in the mountain is still visible and is demarcated as tourist destination. I got into the conversation with the students who stood there to explain. After few queries I realized that they were tutored by Sesa Goa in their modelling project. They told me that it is Sesa mining company owned by British Vedanta that has recently bought Goa's Dempo Mining Corporation has actually originated the concept.

However some very important insights downed on me here:

  1. Mining industry visualizes converting Goa's mining pits after destroying Forest, Agriculture and all other sources of livelihood for another quarter century!
  2. After destroying it has no transparent plan on what it is going to do with lost Forest, lost agriculture and lost livelihood systems.
  3. Mining industry is silent about its track record of past 60 years.
  4. For mining industry it is a tourism that is priority after all Goa's Ore is exhausted.
  5. It is suggested that we impliment the model wherever feasible but not in 2034 but in 2009 itself. Let our mining sites be tourism destination controlled by People in mining belt free from corporates from now onwards.

Please share your views on this further as to how do we proceed. Surely it is not worth to let mining industry run amok for another quarter of a century which it promises to do. Or rather at least Vedanta promises so. Vedanta now shares major mining stakes in Goa and hence needs to be taken seriously.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Goa's Mining Undermining Goans!

In Goa, mining is seen to take place with large scale environmental
degradation violating all human rights. Multidimensional approach i.e.
denial of the eligible rights of the people in mining zones, flouting of law
by the State machinery & mine owners and denial of mineworkers rights that
is followed in Goa for mining industry compounds the problem still further.
Due to which, almost every day Goans from in and around mining areas are
seen agitating against mining came on streets.

Goa government after two years of mass agitation has now come up with mine
owners' friendly draft Mining Policy for Goa! Apart from permitting mining
near the state's wildlife sanctuaries and legalizing other non-operative
dormant leases issued during Portuguese regime, the said draft mining
policy of Goa has retained many flows, as in the past, which are
non-compliant with many prevailing Acts of government of India.

As far as mining in Goa is concerned, mine owners in connivance with
government of Goa appears to have violated and are violating following basic

Constitutional Rights - under Fundamental Rights: Article 19; (i), (f) -
Right to acquire, preserve and transfer the property, Article 21 - Right to
live and livelihood.

Directive Principles of State Policy: Article 38 - Assures the protection of
the social order and promotion of welfare of the people; Article 39 (a) -
Right to earn a dignified livelihood; Article 39 (b) - The State shall in
particular direct its policy towards securing - that the ownership and
control of the material resource of the community are so distributed as best
to sub-serve the common good; that the operation of the economic system does
not result in the concentration of the wealth and means of production to the
common detriment; Article 46 - The State shall promote..the SCs / STs, and
shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation;
Article 47 - Duty of the state to develop the standard of living of the
people; Article 48 - To protect agriculture and animal resource; Article 51
A (g), (i) - It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India - to
protect the natural environment including forest, lakes, river and wild

In addition to above, mining in forest areas grossly violates major
provisions under the National Forest Policy 1988 such as Sections 2.1, 2.2,
3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6, and 4.9.

All provisions with regards to the Scheduled Area Act as well as the
provisions under the Panchayat Raj Act are grossly violated. In Section 4
(a) it clearly states, "a state legislation on the panchayats that may be
made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social, and religious
practices and traditional management practices of community resource".
Further Section 4 (b) says, "every gram sahbha shall be competent to
safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their
cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute

The Scheduled Area Act or the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area Act
(PESA) is one powerful weapon in fighting unjust mining. To compound the
complications further is gross irregularity and corruptions in granting the
mining lease are involved.

Despite of India having best of the Acts gross irregularities and
corruptions at highest & lowest level in government departments are granting
mining leases left, right and center. This has resulted in displacement,
migration, socio-cultural and environmental impacts in the areas surrounding
mining areas. These nonreversible impacts have widened the gap between the
rich and poor even in rural areas. While Goa government appears to have
turned into a repressive tool in the hands of the corporate sectors,
particularly the mining companies, imposing anti-people laws and polices on
the people.

The developed attitude of the state government towards mining sector clearly
shows its withdrawal from welfare responsibilities. The ruling government is
also seen to operate as a string-puppet with the corporate sector holding
its strings. The trust of the disinherited is further shattered and disowned
by the disingenuous attitude of the government. In many cases even the
highest offices of the CM, and the Governor closed their eyes only to remain
disabled to use their prerogative powers only to give an impetus to the
mining companies to capitalize the situation and overthrow the people's

Considering what's going on in Goa's mining areas its time for Goans to
fight for themselves and maintain checks on mining activities. Goans also
need to be extra vigil in lodging their formal protest(s) for
non-compliances' left within draft mining policy of Goa before the draft
becomes an Act to act against Goans.

Best regards,

Dr. U. G. Barad

As circulated on Goanet mailing list on August 23 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rejuvenating Sirigaon: NEERI recommedations

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute based in Nagpur presented and invstigative report titled "Assessment of the depletion of ground water sources and land degradation in Sirgaon vilalge, Goa and mitigation measures" in March 2009 to the Goa bench of Bombai High Court, Panaji in respons to Sirgaon villagers Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Below are extacts from the report's page numbers 106-107 dealing with recommedations to rejuvenate Sirigaon.


i) The field visits were undertaken for assessing the water resources of Sirigaon village in the months of August’08, October 08’ and December 08’. Inspection was made for design and implementation of the recharge structures for augmentation of water resources in the month of January 2009. The field observation indicate that very less water (2-3 m water column) is present in the wells in the months of August and October. All the wells in Sirigaon village had gone dry in the month of December 2008.

ii) The mining activity has led to loss of capping material and at present the bottom of the mine pit has gone below (-20m) for all the three Minng companies.

iii) The ground water level (amsl) contours indicate that the groundwater flow direction is towards the mine pit. Seepage to the pit from the mine wall was also observed during the field visits which may lead to decline of water resources in the Sirigaon village.

iv) Water analysis from the dry wells and mine pits indicate that the quality is suitable for domestic water needs after conventional treatment as well for irrigation after proper sedimentation to avoid suspended matter.

v) It is essential to initiate groundwater recharge activity in a comprehensive and scientific way to recharge the aquifer as well arrest the flow to the mine pits from the aquifer. A comprehensive recharge scheme is accordingly recommended with a framework for implementation. Post-project monitoring needs are included in the overall recharge scheme. The post-project monitoring can be undertaken by NEERI in a project mode for three years.

vi) The findings indicate that silt accumulation has taken place in the neighboring agricultural land and soil fertility has been impaired. The restoration of the degraded land by Integrated Biotechnological Approach (IBA) has been suggested and the cost estimates are made in this regard. The silt accumulation in the agricultural field is caused by the run-off from the overburden dumped material during the monsoon season. Therefore, slope stabilization needs to be carried out to minimize the run off.

vii) The rooftop harvesting structures (60 Nos.) will cost an amount of Rs. 34 lakhs. Construction of recharge wells (60 Nos.) and water absorption trench is estimated at Rs. 73 lakhs. The third priority of construction of subsurface dyke and bentonite grouting will need Rs. 410 lakhs as capital cost. Other costs involved are preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR), maintenance of the structures and monitoring of the environmental management plan

viii) The total cost of all the priorities for recharge scheme is estimated at Rs. 660 lakhs and the rejuvenation of silt affected soils needs Rs. 1.8 lakh/ha of the land. The cost estimates are based on the present (year 2008 SOR of Govt. of Goa) price level

What mining has done to Sirgao's Soil: NEERI conclusions

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute based in Nagpur presented and invstigative report titled "Assessment of the depletion of ground water sources and land degradation in Sirgaon vilalge, Goa and mitigation measures" in March 2009 to the Goa bench of Bombai High Court, Panaji in respons to Sirgaon villagers Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Below are extacts from the report's page numbers 77-78.


It is evident from the foregoing soil analysis that mining leads not only to pollution of surface and ground water but also accelerates by surface runoff which, in turn, results in deposition of mining waste in agricultural fields. Silt accumulation due to erosion by water on agricultural field result in significant changes in soil properties, which are linked with changes in crop growth properties, biomass production and seed yield. In present study, based on analysis of the different physico-chemical and microbiological properties of soil samples collected from specific sites of the study area and assessment of extent of agricultural land affected by open cast mining, following conclusions are drawn.

ü Erosion of mine overburden and mine land leads to its deposition down the slope in the command area. The silted soil belongs to the texture class “silty laom” whereas the control soil belongs to class “silty clay loam”. The low water retentivity, rapid permeability, low infiltrations (in soils with having clay pan) moisture stress conditions, etc, leads to decline in water use efficiency in irrigated areas in case of silty loam soil.

ü The water-logging problem in the silted soil was due to hard clay formed from deposition of silt which ultimately affects the growth of the plants. This has direct influence on the growth of the plants and also affects the availability of plant nutrients.

ü The information collected from farmers revealed that the acidity in the cultivated areas has been considerably increased (pH lowered) in the areas where deposition of sediments/ silt from mining took place with reduction in Paddy yield.

ü The water holding capacity, CEC, organic carbon and nutrients content of the silted soil were very low as compared to control soil. The microbial population, which is responsible for carrying out different bio-geo-chemical cycles and production of plant growth promoting hormones in the soil, which supports the plant growth, is highly affected in the silted soil as compared to good cultivated one. It is obvious that low organic matter content resulted in the reduction in CEC, nutrients and microbial activities of silted soil.

ü As silted soil developed from granite-gneiss parent rock formation of argillic horizon in the soil there is the soil there is the problem because of high free Fe2O3 and Mn contend. The overburden material rich in iron content and also contain lot of gravels and have deficiency of Ca, S and Zn.

ü Thus deposition of silt overburden from the mine waste resulted in changes in soil properties including soil texture, nutrient content and soil water status.

ü In view of the deterioration of soil quality due to silt deposition, it is essential that suitable mitigation measures are implemented for restoration of the degraded land. The mitigation measures are delineated in Chapter 4 of the report.

Sirgaon Mining: State of groundwater as per NEERI report

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute based in Nagpur presented and invstigative report titled "Assessment of the depletion of ground water sources and land degradation in Sirgaon vilalge, Goa and mitigation measures" in March 2009 to the Goa bench of Bombai High Court, Panaji in respons to Sirgaon villagers Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Below are extacts from the report's page numbers 53-54.

Results and Discussions

On the basis of the data made available by the mining companies, secondary data from CGWB, interaction with the villagers and the primary data collected by NEERI team during the field visits, the following findings emerge from the present study.

i) The dug wells in Sirigaon village are getting dried up by Decemebr 08. In fact, many wells are getting dried up by October also.

ii) Most of the wells have hardly 1-2m of water column even in the month of October though the region receives significant rainfall (2000-25000mm).

iii) The mining has gone to the level of -30 to -40 m (amsl) by all the three mining companies namely M/s Rajaram Bandekar (Sirigaon) Mines, M/s Chowgule & Company and M/s Dempo mining company. The levels were confirmed by the reduced level survey undertaken by the surveyor engaged by NEERI.

iv) The wells inventorization and the subsequent reduced level survey indicated that the water table in the village is in the range 1.5-3.0 m (amsl) whereas the mining has gone to the level of -30 to -40 m (amsl). Hence, movement of the groundwater from the village side to the mining pit is possible in the case there is hydraulic connectivity between the village and the mine pit.

v) During the field visits, seepage from mine pit wall was visible fro all the three mine pit. This is evident from the field photographs (Plate 2.8) in respect of Chowgule and M/s Dempo pvt. Ltd. The seepage was more prominent in case of Dempo pit (Plate 2.9 and Plate 2.10). Though seepage was not visible in case of Bandekar (Sirigaon) ltd, it is possible that it may be masked by the water column in the pit itself.

vi) All the wells in the Sirigaon village have very shallow depth in the range of 4 m to 8 m. The lithologs provided by the mining companies indicate that the lateritic zone (water bearing) is in the range of 10-12 m. It is evident that the water scarcity in the wells is partly accentuated due to the shallow depth of wells.

vii) In view of the water scarcity experienced in the village dug wells, it is necessary that a comprehensive mitigation programme be initiated to ensure sufficient water in their wells. The significant rainfall in the area is definitely a boon to the villagers. The quality of water pumped from pit is also if good quality except turbidity and iron content on few occasion. A comprehensive programme incorporating roof top rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge is recommended for rejuvenation of the aquifer in the Village. The detailed roadmap for artificial recharge and roof top rainwater harvesting is outlined in Chapert 4 of the report.

Sirigao: NEERI Report to High Court - Executive Summery

Nagpur based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under Council of Scietific & Industrial Research of the Government of India submitted to the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court, Panaji, the Investigation report in March 2009 after being directed to do so by the Honourable High Court on the Public Interest Litigation of Sirgaon villagers (PIL No. 1/2008, dated 16th June 2008). The title of this 110 page report is "Assessment of the depletion of ground water sources and land degradation in sirigaon vilalge, Goa and mitigation measures". The executive summery is reporduced below in public interest

  • The present study is an outcome of the directives of the Honourable Mumbai High Court at Goa (PIL No. 1/2008) to focus on the alleged depletion of water resources, degredation of agricultural fields’s vis-ả-vis the mining activity in Sirirgaon village (Bicholim Taluka) in the North Goa District.
  • The study area (60 sq. km) has been delieanated on the basis of watershed and covers the working mining pits of the three mining companies namely M/s Dempo Mining Corporation Pvt Ltd., M/s. Rajaram Bandekar (Sirigaon) Mines Pvt. Ltd. And M/s Chowgule and Company Pvt. Ltd. It covers most of the dug wells in the Sirigaon village.
  • The study area is covered by the Survey of India (SOI) toposheet No. 48E/14/SE (scale 1:25,000). The elevation in the village outside the mining pit varies from 0.095 m to 8.639 m.
  • The topography in the nearby Sirigaon village has been altered significantly due to the open cast mining activity. The topographic highs which were present earlier have now been removed during the mining activity and large depressions have been created in the form of Mine pits. In view of the sustained mining activity, depressions have been created with the bottom level varying between -20 m (amsl) to 43 m (amsl).
  • Goa receives rainfall from the Southwest monsoon and spans four months i.e. from June to September. The rainfall data for the last five years indicate that the average annual rainfall is approximately 2846 mm out of which 2785 mm is contributed by the south west monsoon.
  • The Geology of the study area comprises of laterites followed by manganeferous clay. The manganeferous clay is underlain by iron ore formation. The thickness of laterites varies from 3 m to 15 m as evident in the lithologs provided M/s Chowgule & Company Private limited and M/s Rajaram Bandekar (Sirigaon) Mines Pvt. Ltd. The laterites are followed by manganeferous clay which is followed by limonitic clays.
  • The iron ore formations underlie the clay formations. The iron ore formations vary from friable ore to powedery ore. At places, friable ore is followed by powdery ore though friable ore is absent at many places and only powdery ore is encountered. The available lithologs provided by M/s Chowgule and Company Pvt. Ltd. Indicates that the thickness of powdery ore zone varies from 10 m to 32 m in one of their drilling sites.
  • The top lateritic formation constitutes the unconfined aquifer in the study area. The zone comprising the ore body serves as the confined aquifer. The unconfined aquifer is tapped for extraction of water. All the dug wells located in the Sirigaon village are tapping the unconfined aquifer only.
  • Field visits were undertaken for assessing the water resources in the village in months of August, October and December 2008. Inspection was made for design and implementation of the recharge structures for augmentation of water resources in the month of January 2009. Observation well network was established for measurement of water levels and collection of samples for physicochemical and heavy metal analysis. It is observed that the water table in August’2008 varied from 0.50 m to 6.55 m. In October 2008 and December 2008, it varied from 0.90 m to 10.30 m and 2.70 m to 9.70 m respectively. The groundwater scenario was worse in December 08, when almost all the dug wells in Sirigaon village had dried up. However, the wells from nieghbouring villages had water column even in the month of December, 08.
  • The mine pit water levels for all the three mines is below -20 m (amsl). The flow direction is indicative of water flow from the aquifer to the mine pit. Water seepage to the pit from the mine wall on the village side is also noticed during the field visits. Schematic diagram of ground water profile in the Sirigaon and mine area is presented in the Figure.
  • The deepening of the mines has led to loss of recharge area for the dug wells seated at the foot hills of the plateau. Hence, the water scarcity in the viallge dug wells is attributed to the loss of recharge area as well as the deepening of the mine.
  • Water samples were collected from the mining pit of the three companies and dug wells of the Sirigaon viallge. The water samples were analysed for physicochemical parameters and heavy metals levels. The analysis results indicate that the water quality is within permissible limits (BIS 10500:1991) for drinking water as well as for irrigation purpose as per the guidelines (BIS 11624:1986)
  • Groundwater balance study was carried out for the Sirigaon village. It is established that the requirement of the village can be met by undertaking artificial recharge scheme in a holistic way. Roof top rain water harvesting, water absorption trench, sub-surface dykes and bentonite grout have been proposed for artificial recharge and control of water seepage to the mine pits.
  • The State Government has provided organized piped water supply scheme to the Sirigaon village
  • Artificial recharge schemes have been commissioned recently on a small scale by M/s Rajaram Bandekar Mines Pvt. Ltd. And M/s Chowgule and Company Pvt. Ltd. During the field visits it was observed that the recharge to the nearby dug wells was very insignificant.
  • Roof top rainwater harvesting is proposed as Priority I to address the water scarcity problem in the village. Creation of recharge trench and control of mine water seepage are advocated as Priority II. Aquifer storage recovery (ASR) by construction of sub-surface dyke is proposed aas priority III. It is suggested that the artificial recharge of ground water is initiated stepwise. Roof top rainwater harvesting, if not adequate, is to be followed by the construction of recharge trench. Priority III is the last alternative.
  • An estimated cost of Rs.660.25 lakhs will be incurred towards installation of the comprehensive recharge schemes to address the water scarcity in the village. The estimate includes the cost towards DPR preparation, maintenance charges and the post-project monitoring charges.
  • Soil samples were collected from the silt affected area as well as the control sites. The collected soil samples were characterized for various physicochemical and microbiological parameters (such as bulk density, texture, pH, exchangeable calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, available N, P, K, heavy metals and enumeration of different soil microbes).
  • The soil analysis results indicate that the silt deposition from the mining overburdens has degraded the soil fertility in the agricultural fields of Sirigaon village.
  • Proper slope stabilization needs to be carried out in the mining areas to minimize runoff of the overburden dump material to the nearby agricultural fields.
  • Integrated Biotechnological Approach (IBA) is suggested as mitigation measures for restoring the soil quality of the silt affected area. The cost estimated for remediation of silt affected soil by implementation of IBA technology has been worked out to be approximately 1.8 lakhs per hectares area which includes the material costs, land preparation cost and labour cost etc.

From Niyamgiri: Rise Aflame

Wednesday 19 August 2009, by Suhas Borker in Mainstream, Delhi

We were born free
this is our land
this is our forest
this is our river
this is our mountain
and deep beneath the stone on the mountain-top
rages the timeless sacred fire of our dignity.

On to this
you cast your ‘development’ spell
to steal our freedom
and spell death
for our beliefs, values and culture.

Can you mine our God?
Can you defile our Nature?
We shall resist you
resist we shall
until we make you powerless.
The instruments you wield
shall come to naught
because you cannot steal our faith.

You shall never know what happened
but happen it shall.

From Niyamgiri shall rain flags of fire
which the waters of Vamshadhara shall carry aloft
into our hearts and we shall rise
aflame with blades of glistening sweat
to reap the harvest of our struggle.

We shall be free again
Again we shall be free.

August 3, 2009
New Delhi Suhas Borker

[Suhas Borker is an independent documentary filmmaker and convener of the Working Group on Alternative Strategies based in New Delhi. He can be e-mailed at]

Panel flays 3 depts for illegal mining in State

The ad-hoc committee on mines has flayed the three departments — Directorate of Mines, Forest Department and Goa State Pollution Control Board for the illegal mining in the State.

The committee, which has tabled its first report claimed that “these departments have been passing the buck when it came to illegal mining.”

“The State of Goa would not have faced this problem of illegal mines and pollution if these departments had to perform their duties responsibly,” the report says.

Further, report says, it is well taken that the Directorate of Mines looks after the enforcement of the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Act, 1957), the Mineral Concession Rules I960, both of which are Central Legislations.

“...But the Directorate could have very well suggested necessary amendments to MoEF and other Ministries concerned. It should have been the responsibility and duty of Directorate of Mines to check that the mining activity is not done without environmental clearance and other required permissions,” the committee says.

The report also says action should have been taken against mining operations that continue without environmental clearance and other NOCs.

“It was the moral responsibility of the department to close down or cancel licences/lease of mines, whenever the mining rejects and other mining wastes posed threat/caused damage to paddy fields, fruit bearing crops, drinking water sources and other water bodies within the vicinity of mines,” the committee says.

The fact that the deemed clause is being misused by many in the mining sector is known to all the departments. Yet none of the above departments came forward to put an end to this. This could be because those who could stop this were hand in glove with the mining lobby, the members of the committee observed.

The Committee feels that the Government should try to make up for its failure to control the illegal mining activities by passing strictures, amending the existing State and Central legislations pertaining to mining and related issues.

The Committee feels that all mining operations in the State, with or without valid mining lease concession, should be stopped.

Herald, Panjim, August 24, 2009

Goa draft policy permits mining near sanctuaries

Even as 13 mines including six which are close to wildlife sanctuaries, are facing closure, the Goa government’s draft mineral policy interestingly allows mining in close vicinity of the already notified wildlife sanctuaries in Goa.

The draft mining policy which was tabled during the Budget Session of the Goa legislative assembly clearly advocates mining near the State’s wildlife sanctuaries, which are a part of the ecologically sensitive Western ghats, according to an IANS report.

“Mining leases/prospecting licences within close proximity from already declared wild life sanctuaries would be considered provided they adhere to additional safeguards and guidelines whilst operating so as to reduce any adverse effect to the environment,” the draft mining policy states.

After Environment Minister Aleixo Sequeira gave an assurance to take action against illegal operations of mines, the Pollution Control Board issued closure notices.

Earlier the committee headed by Chief Conservator of Forest Sashi Kumar had named some mines which had blatant violation including operating without permission of the statutory authorities. The draft policy however, does not permit mining within wildlife sanctuaries and national parks ‘for the time being’.

“The State government is also of the view that while it is necessary to earmark mining areas, presently no prospecting leases should be allotted in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Similarly, no prospecting leases on wetlands should be allowed for the time being,” the document states.

The draft policy also aims to evolve a mechanism to ensure that numerous dormant non-operational leases issued by the Portuguese government, which ruled Goa, before the State was liberated in 1961.“A number of mining concessions are being kept idle for speculative purposes and future mining… The State government is also concerned with issues of conservation of minerals as well as sustainable development and as such would discourage opening existing dormant leases uniformly,” the draft policy states, adding that no such dormant leases would be permitted to work without an environmental clearance and forest clearance, wherever required.

Interestingly, while the State government’s draft mining policy clearly advocates mining within close proximity of wildlife sanctuaries, it also speaks of maintaining the ecological balance in the State.The draft mining policy is the brainchild of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who is also the minister for mining, the agency report said.

“It would be the endeavour of the State government to ensure that mining activities do not create an adverse impact to the environment and ecology,” it states.

Herald, Panjim, August 24, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Facing local protests: where Vedanta’s erring

Vedanta would do well to pay attention to protests. It bought Mitsui and Co.’s majority stake in Sesa Goa Ltd, a major iron ore extractor and exporter, in 2007

Root Cause Sudeep Chakravarti

There was a flap in the last week of July when human rights battleaxes, among them writer Arundhati Roy and former rock-star spouse Bianca Jagger, cut into Vedanta Plc in London. Timed around the UK-based metals and mining conglomerate’s annual general meeting, protesters included a representative of the Dongria Kondh tribe from Orissa. They were criticizing a bauxite mining project in the region of Niyamgiri by a joint venture in which a subsidiary of Vedanta has “controlling” interest.

The grouse of Roy, Jagger and partners is pressing: If you mine in that area, the tribe will lose a home. For the tribe, the issue has taken on added poignancy: The Niyamgiri Hills are sacred to the Dongria Kondh.

In the contentious, increasingly relevant universe where business, human rights, tradition and emotion intersect with urgency, this is a big deal. It’s not unlike a move from some years ago when Sting, the megastar musician, made common cause with a Caiapó tribal chief from the Brazilian rainforests. If nothing else, it helped reduce the speed at which these forests—worthwhile beyond measure—are being lost.

The activists in London were hoping to hit Vedanta where it hurts, taking their message to influential investors such as the Church of England. (Those who still sneer at what activism can do in a networked world could recall the flak Nike took in the 1990s over its East Asian sweatshops. The same as finance, industry and business, activism and public opinion, too, benefit from shrinking time and space.)

For its part, Vedanta has not made a counter move, except to claim what businesses usually do at these times: display go-ahead paperwork; in this case, from the Supreme Court of India.

This signals the weight of the paper the order is written on, and potential millions of bauxite ore Vedanta will extract to feed its alumina factories. But, in terms of true resolution of conflict at the local level, it will have meant little.

If the corporation had cared, protests would not have happened. Convergence these days goes beyond the meeting ground of business and politics, or the point where the advice of consultancy “suits” merges with the ethical fig leaf of that much abused phrase—corporate social responsibility, or CSR—their clients look for. All too often, CSR is merged with another acronym—R&R, or resettlement and rehabilitation—without understanding the dynamics that operate in areas where a project, whether extractive or manufacturing, inevitably displaces people. This happens in a physical and economic sense; and emotional displacement that chief executive officers, business planners, accountants and engineers may not care to understand. (Perhaps the flaw in the concept of human resource has always been that, it is practised with those under a corporate umbrella, rarely with those adversely affected on account of a company’s activities.)

Businesses also feel strengthened, even invulnerable, if they are in partnership with a government entity—as is the case with Vedanta’s mining project in Niyamgiri. In these situations, the idea of eminent domain—that permits government to expropriate land for the greater good—is more often than not abused in spirit and execution, where resettlement always takes precedence over rehabilitation. It is no secret that state governments typically look to MoUs (memoranda of understanding) as a cocaine addict looks for the next energy high, signing billions of dollars worth, optioning a range of arrangements from tax breaks to clearing the intended patch of land, to what the Chinese so eloquently call “fragrant grease”. Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana and West Bengal have proved particularly susceptible to MoUs and messing with eminent domain.

In these places, deliberate, lamentable misunderstandings lead to negative energy—the sort that local activists and their more aggressive cousins, Maoist rebels, are increasingly adept at leveraging. All these states are in the footprint of churn or violent resistance to business and administration. In Niyamgiri, protesters could join issue with any weapon at hand. Past a point of no return, they will not seek either judicial or administrative approval—or for that matter, celebrity endorsement.

Vedanta would do well to pay attention to protests. It bought Mitsui and Co.’s majority stake in Sesa Goa Ltd, a major iron ore extractor and exporter, in 2007. Sesa Goa is now engaged, along with other local operators such as the riotously controversial Sociedade de Fomento Industrial Pvt. Ltd, in staving off allegations of callousness in and around their Goa mines. This time next year, Vedanta could see Goan protesters in London.

Sudeep Chakravarti writes on issues related to conflict in South Asia. He is the author of Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country. He will write a fortnightly column on conflicts that directly affect business.

Respond to this column at

Note to Goa's Members of Parliament in Delhi

Bharatiya Janata Party funding from Goa Mining Companies during 2007-2008

V M Salgaonkar & Bros Pvt Ltd: Rs 72 Lakhs

VS Dempo and Co. Pvt Ltd, Goa: Rs 62.5 Lakhs

Chowgule Charitable Trust, Goa: Rs 60 Lakhs

Congress Party funding from Goa Mining Companies during 2007-2008

VM Salgaonkar & Bros Pvt Ltd: Rs 72.5 Lakhs

Chowgule Charitable Trust: Rs 72.5 Lakhs

Sesa Goa Ltd, Goa: Rs 27.5 Lakhs

VS Dempo and Co. Pvt Ltd, Goa: Rs 12.5 Lakhs

Dempo Mining Corporation: Rs 10 Lakhs

Above data is sourced from

So, one who pays the bagpiper calls the tune. It is now explainable as to why Goa's all the three Members of Parliaments are sitting quietly even while Goa continues to be ravaged by nefarious mining industry. They are busy sucking their left hand thumb and deriving intense pleasure out their sojourn. Well done Fransisco Sardinha! Well done Shripad Naik! Well done Shantaram Naik! Enjoy your thumb sucking till the end of your tenure in the Parliament. After all Goa's mining companies has been your Parties financial lifeline - Amongst top ten funders. Never mind about everything. Your slumber in the midst of eco-cide of Goa's villages and Forest cover is truly legendary. Keep it up boys! Keep believing yourselves that you'll are still in 8th standard and need to be monitored all the while! kudos to you'll. It is so surprising that even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admits that Environmental Clearances in Ministry of Environment and Forest has become major hotbed of corruption and three of you'll continue to suck your thumbs!

Please get up and speak up! Please ask publicly Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to cancel all the mining Environmental Clearances in Goa. Please remember, your parties may be funded by mining companies from Goa but remember survival Goa, its rich sources of fresh water and pristine nature is a priority over petty issue closer to your hearts - Funding by mining companies to your respective Political Parties. And if you'll fail to speak up now then please resign from your post and stop being burden on public exchequer. If you'll don't commit intelligently to stop this monstrous industry from reigning free hand then every thing else you'll do is null and void.

Please learn some lessons from Goa's Chief Minister Digambar Kamat who in spite of everything including his son-in-law in mining business did took delegation to Delhi few days back and raised the issue. Please over took that his team was full of ignorant chaps and performed badly by asking Central government to curb illegal mining when State government is legally authorised to do it itself! Digambar Kamat's delegation made complete fool of themselves. But still they deserve encouragement for making that effort and taking initiative at least!

Please also take take lessons from all the MLAs - including Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar in Goa Legislative Assembly - spoke up questioning mining industry. Though there was no cutting edge into their arguments yet it deserves appreciation. Mine operator and Sanvordem MLA Anil Salgaonkar was at least pushed on the back foot forced to lie on the floor of the Assembly that none of the mining rejects are flowing into any of the rivers and their tributaries in Goa! What all of them missed to question is nefarious role of Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao in mining belt. Manohar Parrikar appears to have studied pact with Alemaos as a Political Strategy that is bound to back fire on his if he continues to move along this line. All of them also missed to demand that all the mines in Goa that are not in operation for more than two years; leases be cancelled. They made lots of noise to gains publicity - that is also very good by the way! But the ground situation continues to worsen with every passing day and Goa MLAs are at least began to assert ownership of their tongues. I wish them all success and power! Please do not stop there. You'll have to go further. Please probe mining industry further and further assert ownership over your tongues. It will help you'll to regain you respect and dignity. You'll as a politicians are living with public money and if you'll don't perform to your best and in the best interest of the people of Goa then history will record you'll as betrayers and Universe will treat you'll accordingly. Remember every time you'll cheat public you'll first cheat yourselves. You'll have taken immense responsibility to do public good and please stay on your track in spite of destruction from lure of the mining industry. And you MLA Victoria Fernandes, please get your family out of mining business. It is undoing all the good that you have done all your life. It is my humble request as well as a prayer. Overall Goa MLAs are waking up and it is good sign. We wish them all the courage to be honest and bold.

Goa's Members of Parliament please wake up! Goa is watching your every move. Please realize your power and realize your politics. Please acknowledge your funders, please understand plight of People of Goa. Mining is a catastrophe that has already struck and you'll need to play your most responsible role possible. Remember we will never be tired of reminding you again and again if all three of you'll still believe you'll are thumb sucking babies. Please mature, please grow up, please rise up to the occasion!

Be Political! Be Decisive! Be Transparent!

Sebastian Rodrigues

Thursday, August 20, 2009

State favours amendments to EIA

Wants people’s view at public hearings respected
By Herald Reporter
PANJIM, AUG 19 As the central government has been unilaterally granting Environmental Clearances for mining in the State, the Goa government has sought amendments to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 so that people’s views at public hearings are respected and that more powers are given to State Pollution Control Board to decide on environment concerns.

A memorandum highlighting the issue of environmental clearances was submitted to the Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh when a delegation led by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat called on him in New Delhi yesterday. The delegation included Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Minister for Environment Aleixo Sequeira, Chief Conservator of Forest Dr Sashi Kumar, Chairman of Goa State Pollution Control Board, Dr Simon de Souza and Director of Science, Technology & Environment Michael D’Souza.It is stated in the memorandum that amendment to EIA notification is necessary as there is a general apprehension that the central ministry is somewhat indifferent to the ground realities of the state of Goa particularly in issuing environmental clearances to the mining industry.

Inspite of local ecological, socio-economic and cultural objections which are recorded during the Environmental Public Hearings (EPH), the Expert Advisory Committee of MoEF has chosen to grant clearances.

The memorandum also made reference to the objections raised at such public hearings. These include that the EIA studies are erroneous and not always factually correct. The public have also expressed that they have never noticed any agency conducting or carrying out ambient air quality monitoring, ground water/surface water monitoring and noise monitoring at locations stated in the EIA study.More importantly, the objections raised by the public in public consultations have not been considered while granting Environmental Clearance by the union ministry of environment and forest and except in two cases, all the projects have been granted Environmental Clearances, the memorandum signed by Aleixo Sequeira said.

Interestingly, it has been mentioned that since 2003, around 141 Environmental Clearances have been granted for a small state like Goa and that too predominantly in four talukas of the state – namely Bicholim, Sanguem Sattari and Quepem.

The State government’s or the Goa State Pollution Control Board’s views do not find place in the whole procedure and process, the memorandum says.

AS per the provisions of EIA Notification 2006, State Pollution Control Board has to publish an advertisement on public hearing within seven days of receipt of the application and after the hearing, the minutes are to be forwarded to the union ministry. The state pollution control board has not been provided with any role as per the notification. As such, the Goa government made a strong case for amending it so that the State pollution control board is empowered to act and advise the central ministry accordingly.

CLUSTER MINING: It has been observed that each mine individually carries out EIA study when in many places mining is carried out in clusters.“Hence such clusters should be identified and a combined EIA study should be carried out for mines operating in these talukas”, the memorandum says.The role of regional office of MoEF can also be undertaken by the Board which will help resolve many a monitoring issues and curb unhealthy mining practices.

20 August 2009, Herald, Panjim

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NEAA directed to re-hear Sarvan mining case

Ramesh Gauns's Petition before the Delhi High Court against the order of the NEAA dismissing his appeal got a rebirth with the High Court directing on 12-3-2009 that the NEAA to re hear the matter once again since the issues relating to the merits of the case were not covered by the NEAA in its order.

This is an important case whereby the Ministry of Environment and Forest granted clearance to a project where the Public Hearing got conducted before the approved EIA report was prepared !

The Delhi High Court took a serious view of the casual manner in which Appeals after appeals were dismissed by the NEAA without much application of mind. The Chief Justice also acknowledged the fact that the Public hearings have become a mockery and the NEAA has become a hopeless institutions.

The project proponent also assured the High Court that they will not commence mining in Sarvona village, Goa till the decision of the NEAA on the issue.

The case is now listed for hearing on the 1st of September.

Day after tomorrow two cases filed by Ramesh Aggarwal (one relates to Monnet Ispat with respect to faulty public hearing and the other related to Scania Project at Chattisgarh again on grounds of faulty EIA) are listed for final hearing before the Delhi High Court. These will be heard along with the Petition against Vedanta (coordinated by Shankar Pani of Vasundhara) on the issue of who is an aggrieved person under the NEAA Act,1997.

There are lots happening out here and I will share the same (and hopefully positive outcome) with all members !


As circulated on on August 18 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

They Want to Silence the Voice!

PETER FERNANDES calls upon us to ensure that our voice is not silenced in the face of injustice and wrongdoing

Herald, Panjim, 17th August 2009

It has been said that a right is not what someone gives you; it is what no one can take from you. Freedom of speech is our fundamental right. The use of this right is our duty; and with it comes responsibility. Every democracy must uphold this freedom for the welfare of its citizens and the prosperity of the land. The voice of the people is a cry for growth and well-being of all; and it weeps in condemnation when government makes wrong and immoral decisions. This fundamental right is the indicator by which the health of the state is checked, to prevent it from being corrupted and corroded. The minute government tries to snap the voice of the people, it shows that something dreadful is occurring.

Power corrupts! This is an age-old saying, rich in wisdom. It continues, “And, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Needless to say, power is not given up without a struggle. The power-grabbers are terrified by the voice of the common man, the voice which probes their faulty conscience and exposes their insincerity. Most dictators have been successful in holding on to their power because they controlled and manipulated the media, and silenced the voice of the people. Our history bespeaks loudly and clearly of tyrants, and the dark eras in which humanity suffered untold humiliations and anguish, for the exact reason that the voice of the people was silenced. Be bold, and never yield your freedom of speech! Never forget, history repeats itself if lessons are not learnt in time. Despite the horrifying past, our present is no different, even in the face of education and advancement of civilization. Humanity continues to suffer under wicked leaders in this day and age.

Indira Gandhi played foul during the 1971 elections, for which she was indicted by the Allahabad High Court. The court set aside her election to Parliament in 1971. This meant she would lose power as prime minister. To silence the voice of justice, she declared an emergency, in order to hold on to power and cover her misdeeds. During the nineteen months of suspension of democracy, she silenced the voice of freedom and truthfulness, by imprisoning thousands of leading citizens without warrant or trials. Democracy in India was on the brink of death, because cowardly demagogues smothered the voice of the people.

“Silence the voice!” This frightening scenario, utterly disturbing and disheartening, permeates our State of Goa. Many noble souls in the past have raised their voices to challenge the status quo of corruption that has vitiated the atmosphere for the worse. A few did succeed in keeping their heads high, several intimidations by our elected leaders and their goons. Nevertheless, several others, swayed by the might of money and muscle power of our leaders, quashed their voices. Nowadays, they employ similar tactics to wipe out the wrong they have done, by silencing the voice of conscience. These elected politicos do not really represent the voice of the people and their right to be heard – on the contrary, in fact, for they sink their heads in the swamp of corruption, where decency and truth do not reside, and they are threatened by any voice that summons their conscience.

I flipped through a few pages of our history books. These pages recalled the vivid and painful history of Goa. It was during the language agitation, when the whole of Goa rose with a single voice to make Konkani the official language of Goa. The then Chief Minister, who is the present Speaker, along with pro-Marathi colleagues, tried to silence the voice of the people of Goa. However, many of our brothers and sisters fearlessly gave their blood, and did not allow their voice to be silenced. How do we recall and remember these martyrs, and the entire language movement? Has anyone apologized? What about retribution for the people of Goa for the loss of life and property? Should not these leaders be put on trial for their crimes against humanity?

People of Goa recognize the importance of their voice. This voice can be heard now in every nook and corner of Goa. For too long a time, being unmindful of the evil plots of their leaders, this voice remained still and silently tolerant. The elected leaders, without giving it a second thought, unleashed their corruption, which has saturated every fibre of the fabric of our society. Suddenly, with each passing day, politicians are conscious of the voice of truth echoing everywhere, which agitates and disturbs them. This scenario explains the recent outburst, which provided for all concerned citizens a hearty laugh at the expense of our leaders.

Today, every Gram Sabha turns into pandemonium. This is a syndrome of a much more serious malady which has engulfed our society. Those of the administration and government are in their positions because we hired them to work for us. Why then do the elected representatives not give heed to the voice of the citizen? Why do they desire to suppress and trample this liberty? The infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes, as the crime rate escalates beyond imagination, and our leaders are gleefully washing their hands in a dirty bowl of their own crimes. Yet, they have the audacity to silence the media. How long will you delay, and how many gruesome crimes must be committed, before this touches your core? We sit on a time bomb. Are you waiting for it to explode and extinguish our society forever? Goans are now well aware of these evil plans which will lay to waste our beloved state. This explains why people are opposed to mega housing projects, SEZs, Mopa airport, Sports City, unbridled mining, and casinos.

It is critical for our citizens to vigorously exercise their freedom of speech and voice their dissatisfaction and vexation, and to hold their leaders responsible. At the same time, it is equally crucial for the elected representatives to hear and listen to the populace, and address their anxieties and ire with mutual respect for reviving Goa, and rebuilding a healthy society. We have a mammoth role to play in the liberty our democracy assures us. Those who are afraid of the voice of the people, who will not let their voice be strong, have something to hide and, in their arrogance and disregard for all, have betrayed their own conscience. They have placed their selfish interests above the long-term benefits of our state.

We have seen the people of the villages come out on the streets, for the government to hear their united voice against mega housing projects, SEZs, Mopa airport, Sports City, unbridled mining, and casinos. Most admirable! Without hesitation, do not allow anyone to quash your voice now. It would be the greatest menace to our freedoms to give the go-ahead to politicians to rise up and put shackles on gullible citizens! Free speech is the deadliest enemy of a tyrant. Equally potent support is needed to punish the guilty, those who have committed detestable crimes against humanity. Neither rely on our government, nor be deluded by false promises, for they are hand-in-glove with the guilty. How we exercise our liberty will ultimately determine if our freedoms survive. Our individual voices may be feeble, but when united with the entire community, we can bring down the Walls of Jericho!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Massive destruction of Forest cover in Colamb, Rivona

Here are pictures of massive destruction of Forest cover at Colamb, Rivona in Sanguem Taluka. Click here
for details of the matter. Colamb villagers approached South Goa Conservator of Forest in Margao Mr.Bidi on August 13, 2009 to bring this to his notice. He behaved very rudely with the villagers and asked the villagers to get out of his office. Villagers staged 'Gandigiri' and refused to get out of the office. Mr. Bidi then cooled down and agreed to send the department team for on the spot inspection of A.X.P Palondicar as well as of Hiralal Khodidas mining lease operated by Fomentos was inspected. Here are some pictures straight from the Forest.

What will remain if all the Goa's Forest is finished at the alter of mining industry? What will happen to Western Ghats Forests? What will happen to every living organism in and around forest for which all the Indian Citizens are duty bound to be compassionate towards via Fundamental duties in Indian Constitution? How do we collectively put an end to the dictate of mining industry that has held all of us ransom? What will happen all all the springs of the mountains dries up forever and Goa turns into a dessert? Should we let all this to happen? Please raise your voice for the sake of planet earth. Our planet is wounded and it needs time for rest. Please stop mining. Please bury your bulldozers into the soil and get out of Goa now. It is too beautiful and too precious to be offered as sacrificial goat to the mining industry. Please stop your nasty power play. We can take it no more. half a century of pain needs many years to heal. Please do not add more to our worries. We want to survive and live to experience life's mystery. Please do not bury Goa into the dustbin of history.

Please learn to respect life above your fattened briefcases bloated power hunger. It is enough! We can take this no more!

Forest department, please pack up your bags and go home. You cannot protect forest anymore. And Forest Minister and Chief Minister please pull up your socks and do something drastic to stop mining forever in Goa now.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Govt warns Vedanta against illegal mining in Orissa

Tuesday, August 04, 2009, 22:03 IST

New Delhi: Centre on Tuesday warned the Vedanta group that it can be prosecuted if it resorts to "illegal mining" of bauxite at Nyomgiri in Orissa since the Anil Agarwal-controlled firm has been given only in-principle approval.

"They have got environmental approval in-principle. They have not got full forest clearance. If mining is taking place in Nyomgiri, then it is illegal," Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said in the Rajya Sabha.

Replying to a debate on the working of his ministry, he said the 'in principle' nod given to the group would not mean sanction for the mining operations. "They can be prosecuted," he said.

Ramesh said his ministry has now made it mandatory that all applications for mining in forest areas would require not only the forestry clearances but also an evidence that provisions of the Tribals Rights Act have been complied with.

Since the ministry was not insisting on implementation of the Tribal Act earlier, Vedanta received in principle nod.

Ramesh said he was not happy about giving 'in principle' approvals, "give me a little more time and I will get rid of this animal called in principle forest approval. It is not a good animal to have... had the Tribal Acts been in place, the chances are that this project (Vedanta) would not have been cleared in the first place".

The Vedanta group of UK-based Agarwal had announced Rs.70,000 crore India investment plans for its aluminium projects which would significantly hinge upon the Bauxite to be mined at Nyomgiri.

Bureau Report

Requiem for the Western Ghats

5 Aug, 2009, Herald, Panjim

HARTMAN DE SOUZA documents how mining – ‘legal’ as well is ‘illegal’ – is decimating the Western Ghats in Goa

One feels sad for the kingfishers that choose to follow the Kushawati as she comes down from Sulcorna. These birds, intent on finding an eddy or pool where a fish may seek respite from turbulent monsoon currents, thoughtlessly go with the river as she bends north towards Colomb and Rivona.

Barely a kilometre ahead where the first open-cast iron ore mine starts, the Kushawati, thanks to the waste churned up, has turned sluggish, changing in colour from the tea-brown water associated with the monsoon flow to the dirty, muddied, disembowelled red associated with mining. If there were fish there, they have long since disappeared.

Even worse is the devastation on either side of the Kushawati and the road to Colomb and Rivona that runs parallel: hundreds of acres laid bare as far as the eyes can see, one huge dune of fist-sized stones leading to another, roads created in between by bulldozers, and huge chasms of muddy stagnant water that, come September, will be pumped out into the Kushawati so that the company can dig even deeper. The destruction will be absolute and the mining will systematically destroy a majestic river that brings water from the Western Ghats.

The destruction of forests, using highly sophisticated machinery, is nothing short of ‘scientific’ – barring fifty metres either side of the road that show evidence of the trees that originally made up these Quepem forests, and which, ironically, hide the mining on both sides of the river and road, from public view. This is part of an elaborate farce enacted by mining companies making new forays in Quepem, rubber-stamped by the ever compliant pro-mining panel embedded in the MoEF, New Delhi.

The mining companies maintain a pitiful green cover in front of their mines, as they say in their applications for ‘environment clearance’, to reduce the ‘visual impact’ of their mining operations! The euphemisms are on a template: the dirty, muddied, dead bodies of water, steep sides well below the water table, are referred to as ‘reservoirs’; companies promise to cut only those trees necessary to begin mining, with no mention of how many hectares of government-demarcated forest will disappear. Reforestation amounts to planting a row of acacia, hybrid bohenia, Singapore cherry, and shrubs of milky-green durantha at the entrance to the mine, perhaps even some bright-coloured hibiscus around the security cabin, to reduce ‘visual impact’.

Mining is a bonanza for a privileged few, from the large mining companies to the politician or politician’s kin turned ‘super contractors’ doing their bidding, to the affluent in Goa with investments in mining shares, or trucking operations, or barges.

In a mining operation that will net a few thousand crore rupees at least, Rs40-50 lakh is set aside for reforestation projects; Rs10 lakh reluctantly spent to hire water tankers to spray the roads to keep dust levels down, or provide drinking water to villages that once had water in abundance! It is this easy to get official ‘environmental clearances’.

It is difficult to explain this to birds looking for fish or worms, or to wildlife losing their natural abode and coping with the plight and indeed, fright, of fleeing; or to villagers in Colomb who point out the cracks in their mud and mortar homes brought on by the mining company blasting explosives; or old men wondering why centuries-old forests need to uprooted, or why the mud in their fields is stained with the blood of mining; or women and children who watch, baffled, as the water sources slowly and surely dry up and choking red dust settles on and around their dwellings.

Or, for that matter, to villagers in Maina, Pirla, Colomb and Rivona who wonder what system of governance prevails in this country, when, in spite of violent opposition to new mining operations in Quepem, the permissions to mine are still be given, old leases being renewed well after they have lapsed.

Or to explain to farmers in Quepem that when one of these old colonially legislated leases is sold for a few crore to a mining company or ‘super contractor’, they are left with ‘superficial rights’ under the law, and the mining concession, in spite of being drafted at a time when Quepem did not have such human settlement, given precedence.

Given the scale of mining in Quepem thus far, when it is obvious that only a massive deforestation beckons, one begins to wonder what exactly is ‘legal’ in mining iron ore in our Western Ghats? Villagers there are not to know that in Goa, democracy is defined as a government ‘off’ the people, ‘buy’ the people and very ‘far’ from the people indeed! The tragedy surrounding the rape of Goa’s forests begins with laws that give the mining industry precedence over agriculture and kept this way by successive pro-mining governments in Panjim. Add to this an archaic principle that accepts that those who pollute will pay for their sins.

This is how the mining companies got away with murder in the early 70s when they made their first forays in North Goa, with officialdom advising farmers they were not strong enough to take on the mining behemoths and should therefore sell and move out. This was their strategy in Sanguem, where they have already been successful in taking away an entire generation of young able-bodied men from earning a successful living off the land. They turned them into truck drivers to haul the ore. This is their strategy in Rivona and Colomb, as also in the recent leases renewed in the villages of Pirla, Maina and Kawrem, all surrounded by forest lands the government has been steadfastly refusing to notify. Why should they, when ministers own mining companies, or barges, or businesses in earth-moving machinery…

In the Regional Plan, Quepem has been demarcated as a place in need of quality educational institutions. But even as this is being written, two meetings have been held at a government school in Maina, chaired by truck drivers and mining managers, the deal being that mining will now come even closer to the school and cross over to the other side of the road, destroying large sugarcane fields and going all the way towards the Paikdev Temple and the Curca river.

The school has already been given a bus by the mining company, the children have got exercise books and pencils, umbrellas for the rains, and now promises have been made that the students will shift into a new school building built by the miners. Does anyone in government even know about this, or is this proof of complicity afoot? How can we have ‘laws’ that allow unscrupulous politicians and industrialists to destroy what remains of the Western Ghats?

In Ambaulim, where villagers have been protesting about the quantum of mining trucks passing through, more able-bodied men have been lured into owning trucks and making the money the company offers them, and now the mining company wants to build a community hall for the local church!

These are sops, because if the mining companies have their way they will wreck hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of forest land in the cusp between Rivona, Collomb, Kawrem, Maina and the outskirts of Ambaulim. The farce is incomplete without mention of the fact that ‘environment clearances’ have been procured in Maina for land that is not even owned by the politician in question! A local sugarcane farmer, brokering nefarious deals, is wealthy beyond his wildest imagination, cheating his own sister-in-law of her late husband’s land. He owns a Sumo, has a tipper truck parked in his compound, and has built a two-storeyed mansion without any official permissions.

The polluter cannot be allowed to pollute. But for that to be realised, our priorities need to be re-aligned and the foundation of ‘industrial development’ shaken at its core, made subservient to the Western Ghats. If that were done, the ongoing destruction of Quepem’s forests would cease.

As it is, though, the procedures to enact this wanton rape are ridiculously simple.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tribal land at treat from mine

Interesting article here from Guardian Weekly. It is based on struggle of Niyamgiri hill People - known as Khonds - against Vedanta in Orissa.

Church under pressure over revelations that Vedanta supplies nuclear programme

• Sacred mountain bauxite will be used for missiles
• Campaigners press for ethical rethink on share stake

Gethin Chamberlain in Delhi

The Church of England will come under more pressure to give up its stake in a controversial mining group after it emerged that the firm supplies materials to India's nuclear missile programme.

Bauxite mined by Vedanta Resources from a sacred Indian mountain will be used to produce components for the country's military, the Guardian has learned, bringing a potential conflict between the church's ethical investment policy and £2.5m stake in the company. Several local councils also have stakes in the firm.

A spokesman for Vedanta confirmed that bauxite from the mine would be supplied to its Balco subsidiary but insisted that the company was only involved in the production of metals for the weapons, rather than the weapons themselves.

"What these guys sell is the refined aluminium which can then be used for all sorts of things, they are not actually involved in manufacturing weapons," he said. Balco supplies 90% of the aluminium used in India's nuclear-capable Agni, Prithvi and Akaash missiles.

Vedanta's plan to mine at Niyamgiri in the eastern state of Orissa has prompted a barrage of criticism from environmental activists, who claim it will displace the 8,000 strong Dongria Kondh tribe and wreck the delicate ecosystem of the area. The hill is regarded as sacred by the tribe.

Last week activists including Bianca Jagger targeted the British company's annual meeting, hoping to persuade shareholders to force the company to abandon plans for the mine.

Those shareholders include the Church of England, which has a £2.5m holding in Vedanta. It has already promised that its Ethical Investment Advisory Group [EIAG] will hold talks with the company's management over the mining plans.
But today's revelation will heap further pressure on the church, which has a policy of not investing in companies that supply or manufacture armaments.
In a policy document entitled Church Investments and Armaments, the EIAG states that "the church has historically avoided armaments where these constituted the main business or focus of any company. However a policy review resulted in new criteria being adopted that provides for the complete exclusion of armaments."

A spokesman for the EIAG said: "We are taking the allegations about Vedanta's Niyamgiri operations and plans very seriously and we will make our assessment as quickly as possible."

He said the company had responded promptly to a request for a meeting but because of the holiday season a video conference was not likely to take place before September. The EIAG is also planning to take up an offer from Vedanta to visit Lanjigarh in Orissa, where the firm has a bauxite refinery, to look at its operations.

Campaigners opposed to the mine said the company's involvement in the production of nuclear missiles was further reason to oppose the project.
Meredith Alexander, head of trade and corporates at ActionAid said: "Vedanta's commitment to sustainable development becomes ever more laughable. The news that Vedanta provides raw materials for weapons systems is outrageous.
"This is just another reason why investors should take a hard look at their holdings in Vedanta. The Church of England, for example, state that they will not invest in defence companies. Vedanta's involvement in missile production surely makes their investment even more controversial."
Campaigners also want other high profile investors to rethink their involvement. These include the pension funds of three councils – Hertfordshire and Suffolk county councils and Havering district council. The list also includes leading fund managers such as Norwich Union Life and Pensions Ltd, Halifax pension fund and Axa Sun Life Assurance Society.

The aluminium alloys needed for India's Agni, Prithvi and Akaash missiles were developed by Balco, purchased from the Indian government in 2001 by Sterlite Industries – which is owned by Vedanta Resources. Vedanta has an alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, where from next year bauxite mined at Niyamgiri will be processed, according to its most recent company report.

Once that happens, the company plans to continue to supply part of Lanjigarh's output to Balco, which states on its website that one of the key clients is the Indian missile programme.

Vedanta was allowed by the supreme court to go ahead with the mine at Niyamgiri despite advice from the court's central committee that the use of the forest land in an ecologically sensitive area should not be permitted. In its findings, the committee observed that "the casual approach, the lackadaisical manner and the haste with which the entire issue of forests and environmental clearance for the alumina refinery project has been dealt with smacks of undue favour/leniency".

Campaigners still believe that they have a chance of overturning the decision, with ActionAid citing a 1989 protest which stopped a Balco mine in the Gandhamardan hill in neighbouring Bargarh district. Last year the company made a renewed application to mine there too.

"Despite the supreme court ruling, the legal struggle against Vedanta's proposed mine in Niyamgiri continues," said Meredith Alexander. "The Kondh people have now launched a fresh challenge which highlights Vedanta's environmental record and its dogged refusal to listen to the local community.

Fomentos lime Solution!

At Colamb's Hiralal Khodidas mining lease T.C no 06/49 Gulkond Dongor, Fomento has found new solution to the problem of red mining water running off into the Green field of the Colamb villagers. The company now - as soon as it starts raining - releases large doze of lime into the running water so that red water running into the field does remain as photogenic as it was last season. This is indeed a novel solution! Fields and people continue to be at the receiving end the mining company. Irrespective of the colour of the silt, the silt continues to accumulate in the field and Fomentos continue to invade more Colamb land for mining activities. Why dint's it mine under the Cidade de Goa in Dona Paula or Timblo House and Fomento office near railway station in Margao? It would have fetch very good Ore and subsequent foreign exchange. Must consider this for very personal experience of being at receiving end of mining! Please, please consider it Fomento. You have troubled enough people of Goa and please stop your nonsense now. Enough is enough.

Rampant mining in Goa's Forest in Sanguem

A.X.P Palondicar mining lease 17/49 operated by Mr. Palondicar in collaboration with some unknown contractors from Andhra Pradesh is operating in Forest area in Survey number 72 of Colomba village in Sanguem Taluka. Its Public Hearing was conducted on 25th July 2009. Survey number 72 is declared Government Forest under Sawant and Karapurkar committee. It is declared as 'No Development Zone' in Goa Regional Plan 2021.

Presently massive cutting down of Forest is in Progress. One of the sources of Kushavati river known as "Unannatly Volli" originates here. This very source of water is being brutally destroyed. It is very pleasant and and cool place but now the work is in progress to destroy this forever. Our Goa Government is responsible for this ongoing genocide of Goa and it will have to be answerable now to people of Goa as well as to the Universe.

Mining dump collpases, runs into Selaulim Dam

M/s S. Kantilal mining lease bearing T.C No. 60/52 dump has collpased and silt has entered Selaulim water reservoir and Paddy fields in Curdi, Sanguem. Its contractor is Goa mining trader and Sanvordem MLA Mr. Anil Salgaonkar and subcontractor is Cuncolim MLA and Urban Development Minister in Goa cabinet Mr. Joaquim Alemao. Selaulim dam water is supplied to entire South Goa plus through Kallem river in Sanguem via pipeline it is released into Khandepar river in Ponda in Opa water works that supplies water to North Goa including to the Goa's Capital city.

Goa's lawmakers are law breakers of the first order and it is crystal clear here!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Farmers ‘crop’ govt on land acquisition

Vow to join hands and march the streets with spades and sickles

Agitated farmers from across the state under the banner of Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott on Sunday demanded that the government stop forthwith acquisition of agricultural land for any purpose and return the acquired land to the people.

At an impressive meeting held at the historic Lohia Maidan, various speakers lambasted the government in general and Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat in particular, holding him and other Ministers responsible for acquiring prime agricultural land under the guise of promoting development.

The farmers vowed to join hands to oppose government’s plan to acquire agricultural land in any part of Goa. Farmers warned that they would be forced to come on the streets with the spade and sickle if the government goes ahead with the Sports city in order to protect the land of their ancestors from being forcefully acquired by the government.

The impressive turn out of the people for the meeting supported by NGOs from across the state conveyed a message loud and clear to the government that they would no longer take things lying down. They resolved to fight tooth and nail thoughtless plans of the Goa government to acquire prime agricultural land for other purposes, primarily for constructions.

Speakers pointed out that it is ironical that the government makes budgetary provision for promotion of agriculture and in the same breath allows blatant conversion of agricultural land. They said that infrastructure like highways, roads should not be carried out by destroying fields. Instead, they called for exploring alternate measures and called for preserving and conserving tenanted land.

Attacking successive governments for making available limited agro land in Goa to a handful of capitalists, the farmers’ body charged the government for using different forms to promote devious and systematic designs to uproot people and render them aliens in their own land.
In a spirited address, President of Priol Shetkar Mandal, Sadanand B Gawde underlined the need for farmers to forge unity at the local level and foil attempts by the capitalists and the government to acquire their farming land. “It’s only when the farmers wake up from slumber, the government will come under pressure to leave the fields untouched”, he added.

Accusing the government of investing crores of rupees in unviable projects such as the Sky Bus metro, he said the same money could have been pumped into agriculture to help farmers continue the traditional occupation.

Richard Rebello came down heavily on the government for acquiring large tracts of prime agricultural land at Madel-Ambaji-Dovondem in recent times by displacing the farming community. He pointed out that the poor farmers have been paid a pittance by the government in lieu of the fields and demanded the return of the land to the owners.

He was highly critical of the Sports Minister, Babu Azgaonkar for pushing the sport city at the cost of the farmers.

Tarajan Desai said that prime agriculture land is being indiscriminately acquired in Cuncolim which has forced a farmer Vishnu Desai to knock the doors of the Supreme Court to seek return of the agriculture land.

The meeting was addressed amongst others by Ida Coutinho, Prakash, Sharad Gude, John D’Costa, Durgadas, Esteve Andrade, Xavier Fernandes, George Fernandes, Adv John Fernandes, Deugim Fernandes, Sheila Naik, Rama Velip, Seby Fernandes, Casiano Furtado and Rodney Almeida.

Representatives of various Non-governmental organizations, including Fr Maverick Fernandes, Soter D’Souza, Sabina Martins, Sidharth Karapurkar were seen seated amongst the audience.

Herald, August 03 2009, Panaji

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Call me, call my family: my home phone is tapped!

Today is August 02, 2009. More importantly it is Sunday. I got a call at around 10.00 am on my home BSNL landline 2272164 from someone did not identify with his name but only said that he is from Telephone department wanting to know if my phone was working properly. I said it is working but then asked as to whether anyone from my family had complained to department that it is not working. He replied that nobody complained but the department is checking if it is working on their own. Then I said there is no problem with my landline and then the caller hooked off the phone. Then within few seconds of me keeping the phone it began ringing again. I received the phone and then after about 5 seconds the line was cut without anyone uttering a word. My
hello' went in vain!

Then I pondered and discussed with my family members at home if anyone had lodged complaint at our Sioilm Telephone exchange? I got negative response at here. Then after few seconds I wondered that how come Siolim Telephone exchange is open on Sunday that is weekly holiday for the government staff? Our earlier experiences with Telephone repairing when it went dead have been very delayed response that would take always more then a week to attend to my landmine. At one incident one of my family members even had to get involved in heated discussion with the Telephone exchange officials in Siolim. Now what a turn around in the situation: feel like Goa's golden era has been ushered in Goa today morning in terms of giving quick services to the consumers all over Goa; when the department has began monitoring the phones round the clock; and its employees has no more weekly off on Sundays from today; let the labour laws fly to the winds! If this is not the case then this is a case of violation of my and my families right to privacy. Telephone department has to explain this situation or it is guilty of colluding with vested interests in tapping my private home landline and monitoring of information that is exchanged while in telephonic conversations which it has no right to do.

My mobile number 9923336347 too is tapped very often. One instance that was detected was in the evening of October 10, 2008 when I called up Rama Velip at his landlines in Colamb someone unknown Hindi speaking male voice received it. When I confronted him he hang up the line. Then, surprisingly on the same evening when Rama Velip called me up at my cell number also someone unknown Hindi speaking male voice received it!

Recently around two weeks ago my cell number and Rama Velip's cell number; whenever there is connection it is tapped. There is clear background voice to authenticate this. By now I know something about tapping of phones and in case any one want to meet me or meet my family or meet any person that I am in touch with there is no need at all to eve drop. I carry aversions towards none and me and my family based in Siolim will always welcome you as our most precious visitor, shower you with all the Love, Compassion, Goodwill, Peace and I will definitely share all my merits - that me and my family is abundantly blessed by universe - with you. I and my family is blessed abundantly and we are lavish when we share. So whoever you are, from whatever background please be fearless. I will never insult you and turn my head away from you but will receive you with my wide open arms. Also be sure that me and my family stands for truth and justice steadfastly, historically and that is one of our pristine family virtues.

Sebastian Rodrigues