PANJIM, AUG 29
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.