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

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