Sunday, September 27, 2009

Motes Antao’s RTI letter that led to Goa Police loose its equanimity

From,
Shri Motes Antao,
r/o. Chudeamol, Colomba,
Sanguem-Goa.

Date: 14/8/2009.

To,
The Public Information Officer,
Office of Superintendent of Police( south)
Margao Goa.

Sub: Application under section 6 of Right to Information Act 2005.

Sir,

Be please to issue me the following information under Right to Information Act 2005.
1. Give me the following below mentioned details of then P.I. of Quepem Shri Santosh Dessai , present working as P.I. of Margao town P.S.

· In which year Santosh Dessai has joined the police service?
· At the time of joining what was his designation?
· The list of assets files by his at the time of joining the service?
· Since the time of joining in the police department how many time he has been posted at Quepem?
· Give me his present service address?
· Give me his present residential address?
· Give me his detail list of movable assets held by him and his family members including the movables disposed of by them?
· Give me the detail list of Immovable assets held by him and his family members including survey number, name of the property, the village in which they are situated, including those immovables which are disposed of by them?
· At any time departmental inquiry has been order against him? If yes then give me the details?
· During his posting as P.I. of Quepem Police station how many charge sheet he has filed against the anti-mining agitators?
· Whether he or his family members owns any mining truck/tipper truck ? If yes give me their details?

2. Give me the following below mentioned details of ASI of Quepem Police station Shri Prakash K.Gaonkar
· In which year Prakash A. Gaonkar has joined the police service?
· At the time of joining what was his designation?
· The list of assets files by his at the time of joining the service?
· Since the time of joining in the police department how many time he has been posted at Quepem?
· Give me his present service address?
· Give me his present residential address?
· Give me his detail list of movable assets held by him and his family members including the movables disposed of by them?
· Give me the detail list of Immovable assets held by him and his family members including survey number, name of the property, the village in which they are situated, including those immovable which are disposed of by them?
At any time departmental inquiry has been order against him? If yes then give me the details?
· During his posting as ASI of Quepem Police station in how many cases filed against the anti-minig agitators he is the investigating officer?
· Whether he or his family members owns any mining truck/tipper truck ? If yes give, me their details?

3. Give me the following below mentioned details of HC of Quepem Police station Shri Arvind Nagekar Buckle No.3100.
· In which year H.C. Arvind Nagekar has joined the police service?
· At the time of joining what was his designation?
· The list of assets files by him at the time of joining the service?
· Since the time of joining in the police department how many time he has been posted at Quepem?
· Give me his present service address?
· Give me his present residential address?
· Give me his detail list of movable assets held by him and his family members including the movables disposed of by them?
· Give me the detail list of Immovable assets held by him and his family members including survey number, name of the property, the village in which they are situated, including those immovable which are disposed of by them?
· At any time departmental inquiry has been order against him? If yes then give me the details?
· During his posting as H.C. of Quepem Police station in how many cases filed against the anti-minig agitators he is the investigating officer?
· Whether he or his family members owns any mining truck/tipper truck ? If yes give, me their details?

4. Give me the details of police officials who are working at Quepem police station for more then three years?

The court fee of Rs.10/- is hereto annexed.

Kindly do the needful and obliged.

Yours Truly,

Sd/-
Motes Antao

GOAMAP says police should apologise

HERALD REPORTER
PANJIM, SEPT 26
The Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) on Saturday demanded that the police should tender an apology for arresting an anti-mining activist by calling him to the police station under a false pretext.

Motesh Antao of Colamb was arrested in connection with a complaint lodged in November 2008 by an official of a mining company under sections 143, 341, 506 read with 149 of IPC on Friday. Antao said he had gone to pick up some RTI information for which he had made a letter to South Goa Superintendent of Police on August 14.

GOAMAP in a press release signed by its convenor Sebastian Rodrigues stated in case Goa Police failed to tender an apology the organization would be constrained to initiate appropriate constitutional recourse in a befitting manner.

He said in case of Motesh he was arrested by the Quepem police under some criminal case registered against a group of Colomb villagers for blocking mining transportation of the Fomento mining company that was operating the Hiralal Khodidas mining lease.

GOMAP said the Quepem police owed a written apology to Motesh for threatening him for filing an RTI application thus thwarting citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

It stated that the police should give the apology copies to all the print and electronic media in the State by September 27 midnight.

Herald Sunday September 27, 2009 Panaji

Vendanta’s European financers apprised of mining exploits in Goa

HERALD REPORTER
PANJIM, SEPT 26
In what could be termed as a new tactic to corner major mining company and counter its claims of “social responsibility” the Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) presented a paper on mining exploits of Vendanta before its nine bankers in London.

Vedanta operates in the State, Sesa Goa and Dempo mines which it acquired earlier this year.It was a conference of bankers that finances Vendanta where various NGOs, lawyers, social activists presented well-researched works on mining operations of Vendanta group wherever it has mining stakes in the world.

The GOAMAP was represented by H Bedi in London, who placed beforeEuropean Bankers a paper by Sebastian Rodrigues, Convenor of GOAMAP.

“An urgent appeal was made to all the banks involved in lending finances to Vedanta to immediately rethink their business. Financing Vedanta is financing destruction of Goa,” read the closing lines of the presentation.

He highlighted how presently open cast iron ore, manganese and bauxite mining is posing grave threat to Goa’s environment.

“There is tremendous pressure on land, water, housing, quality of air, agriculture, fisheries and forest cover due to mining industry. Mining has progressively ruined areas under mining for over half a century and it continues to do so with very high pace with sophisticated mechanization of the industry in place.”WATER: The paper said, Goa’s ground water is major casualty of mining as ground water is pumped out of the mining pits and released into the rivers and rivulets. And resultantly, wells in the villages where mines are located have gone dry and people are compelled to depend upon mining companies for the supply of water in tankers for all purposes.

The village of Pissurlem is a case in point in Sattari taluka. Here, Sesa Goa is one of the mining companies having its operations.

AGRO: The paper also pointed out that agriculture is another casualty of the prosperity of mining in Goa. “For the past few decades agriculture has been badly shattered by the mining industry due to large amount of silt deposits in the cultivable paddy fields.”In Pissurlem village, farmers have forced to abandon large track of paddy field for the reasons of mining silt into the fields, Rodrigues claimed adding that Sirgao village is Bicholim taluka is another casualty of mining industry over the past 40 years.

AIR POLLUTION: The paper also submitted that how mining activities has led to air pollution in the mining belt. “Health of People including Women and children is badly affected. There is high level of lung diseases prevalent in the mining belt. Asthma and tuberculosis are very common. Water shortages and water pollution has also caused number of health related problem. There are reports that people in Goa’s mining belt has rate of kidney failure cases” says Rodrigues.

FOREST: Forest is another major casualty. Mining covers over hundred mining leases located in Western Ghats forest – thick evergreen forest – one of the world’s 12 bio-diversity hotspots declared by United Nations.

According to submission in London meet mining leases occupy over 67,000 hectares of Goa’s land while manufacturing industry occupies little over 1,500 hectares of land. Nevertheless, manufacturing industry contributes more to Goa’s economy than mining industry.

Herald, Sunday, September 27, 2009, Panaji

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Slide show on Sonshi Government School affected by mining

Sonshi primary school in Sattari has neither a playground nor running water. Instead of these luxuaries, the children can play in mining dust.

The students play and learn just a few meters from 5 mines. Watch this slide presentation prepared by Advocate Krishnendu Mukherjee on Village Tinto website.

Boy killed at stone crusher site

HERALD REPORTER

MARGAO, SEPT 25

A young lad from Jharkhand, who was working at a stone crusher, died after he was hit by a stone at the site at Sao Jose de Areal on Friday morning.Maina Curtorim police said that a stone came rolling down on Nelson D (28) causing injuries to his back bone.

He later succumbed to his injuries. The Maina Curtorim police are investigating.

Herald, September 26, 2009 Panaji

He was summoned to collect letter, but ended up being arrested

HERALD CORRESPONDENT
QUEPEM, SEPT 25

The Right to Information application filed by an anti-mining activist from Colomba-Quepem seeking information from the Quepem police reportedly took an unusual turn when he was arrested on Friday.Speaking to Herald, Motes Antao said he had filed a RTI application on August 14 before the South Goa Superintendent of police, seeking details regarding PI Santosh Dessai, ASI Prakash Dessai and HC Arvind Nagekar of Quepem police.

“On Thursday evening, Police Constable Vinod came to my house to deliver the letter issued by the South Goa SP and DGP, asking me collect the RTI information,” said Antao.Antao could not be contacted and since family members did not accept the letter, PC Vinod left a message at Antao’s residence to collect the letter from the police station on Friday morning.“On Friday at about 8.45 am, I went to the Quepem police station and collected the letter issued by the SP South and DIG.

“As I was leaving the police station, ASI Prakash Dessai arrested me in connection with a complaint dated November 28, 2008, filed by an official of a mining company and I was booked under Sections 143, 341, 506 r/w Section 149 of IPC,” stated Antao.

“The mining company is trying to take revenge since I applied for detailed information under the RTI. ASI Prakash Dessai is also the investigation officer in the complaint dated November 28, 2008,” alleged Antao. Antao was later released by the Sanguem JMFC on a bond of Rs 2,000.

When contacted, Police Inspector Nilesh Rane, who is hold additional charge of the Quepem police station, denied allegations that the Quepem police had lured him into the police station by asking him to collect the RTI application, only to arrest him there.

When asked to comment on the delay in arresting Antao for nearly a year, PI Rane said he did not have the necessary details to comment in the matter.

Herald, September 26, 2009 Panaji

Stone crusher at Mopa opposed

HERALD CORRESPONDENT
PERNEM, SEPT 25Residents of Mopa-Pernem have decided to resort to an agitation against a proposed stone crusher at Harijanwada-Mopa.

According to sources, on September 24, a group of irate residents from Mopa confronted a team of officials, who had visited the village to inspect the site for the proposed stone crusher.Sitaram Parab, local, has submitted a letter to deputy collector, Pollution Control Board and other authorities urging them to look into the matter.

When contacted, Mopa Sarpanch Pramod Parab lambasted the proposed stone crusher, as earlier one stone crusher had damaged the livelihood, environment, agricultural and dairy production in the village, which was stopped by the locals.

Herald, September 26, 2009 Panjim

GOAMAP urges written apology from Goa Police for threatening RTI applicant

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) takes serious note about repeated police harassments of people protesting against mining in the State of Goa. Latest instance is of Motesh Antao of Colamb, Sanguem where in he was called at Quepem Police Station on 25th September 2009 to collect written replies to his application under Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI).

However instead of furnishing him with the relevant information in polite manner he was threatened for filing RTI application and arrested under some criminal case registered against group of Colamb villagers for blocking mining transportation of the Fomento mining company – operating Hiralal Khodidas mining lease against the overwhelming protests from the local villagers - in Colamb on November 28, 2008 in a land belonging to Forest department.

GOAMAP requests the Goa Police authorities at Quepem Police Station, Quepem to issue written apology to Motesh Antao for threatening him for filing an RTI application – thereby causing grave injury to the practice of democracy and citizens fundamental right to freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed under Constitution of India - with copies to all the print and electronic media in Goa by the mid-night of September 27, 2009.

In case Goa Police fails to tender apology then GOAMAP shall be constrained to initiate appropriate constitutional recourse in a befitting manner.

Initial report from meeting with bankers funding Vedanta

This is an initial report on meeting with banks financing Vedanta held on September 22, 2009 in London. GOAMAP was represented at this meeting by H.Bedi. Read on...

I wanted to let you know that the workshop itself went really well. Eight banks attended from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the US. It was conspicuous though that no British banks attended (they had all declined beforehand in spite of the fact that the workshop was in London). There were, however, three UK investors who attended. Vedanta of course did not come. (In so far it was actually quite good that we had invited them).

There were great presentations from Simon Chase on Zambia, H. Bedi on Goa, Ritwick on Niyamgiri and Roger gave an scathing overview of Vedanta's corporate culture. The discussion was quite lively. One could tell that several of the bank representatives seemed quite shocked about the facts that were presented. Some of them, however, tried to sound us out regarding a policy of "engagement" towards the company (i.e. trying to reform Vedanta). Here, we almost didn't need to answer the question, because one of the Dutch banks (who have in the meantime disinvested from Vedanta) relayed their experience. They had tried engaging with the company and found that their questions were not answered and that the company is not willing to acknowledge any of the problems it is causing. Their conclusion was that the company is not reformable. This obviously made a big impression on the other banks and investors. We of course added that we also see no room for reforms as the company is truly a serial offender and has absolutely no respect for communities' rights or host country environment laws.

The banks, naturally, did not say what they are now going to do. But most of them took extensive notes and also asked us to send them copies of the presentations and other materials, so that they can circulate them internally. A representative of one of the big French banks questioned us about Vedanta's operations in Australia (none of us had however looked into these). When I talked to him later on privately, he said that while it would be hard for his bank to reject all future financing for Vedanta, he could well imagine that they would refrain from general corporate loans or from loans to Vedanta's operations in developing countries. Some banks (for example from Germany) indicated that they would not be willing to give any future assistance to the company.

Since the bankers were mainly representatives of sustainability departments, they were quite honest in saying that the main reason not to give further financing to Vedanta is reputational risk (i.e. that the banks themselves fear becoming the target of NGO or media campaigns).

I'm sorry that I can't give you the exact details of which banks said what, but the meeting was conducted under the so-called Chatham House Rule, which means that we aren't allowed to quote statements in a way that makes them attributable to an individual bank.

I think the meeting definitely had an impact, even with some of the banks who did not attend. Many of them asked for a report of the workshop (we will send them all the presentations) and I know of several, who have already written to Vedanta and are asking the company detailed questions. Our hope is that the workshop and the ongoing campaigns will make it much harder for the company to raise money for its future operations.

We of course pointed out that in cases where the banks have already given assistance to Vedanta, we hold them responsible for the ongoing impacts of the company's operations and that the banks need to examine the possibility of calling back these loans.

I guess we now need to think about possibilities for follow-up (aside from compiling a report of the workshop). One aspect which we discussed with some of the British NGOs afterwards is the possibility for a campaign on the British banks as some of these are major financiers of Vedanta. It looks like Amnesty International is interested in taking this up in the UK.

Anyway, if you have anything that you'd like us to include in the package we send out to banks, please send it to me sometime next week.

All the best,
Heffa

Vedanta on path to 50 million tonnes annual iron ore output, as the UK company increases stake in Sesa Goa

Barely 36 hours after members of Vedanta's workforce in Korba fell victim to one of the worst industrial disasters in recent Indian history, the UK company's iron-ore subsidiary, Sesa Goa, has announced issue of a FCCB (Foreign currency Convertible Bond) valued at US$ 500 million.

This will be devoted to a major, aggressive, expansion of Sesa's operations in the "sunshine state" of Goa, and elsewhere in India - to a massive 50 million tonnes a year.

In the past fortnight, Vedanta, through three of its “promotional” subsidiaries (Westglobe, Finstar, Twin Star),increased its stake in Sesa Goa to 57.1%

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are book runners for the bond issue.

Below find an interview earlier today with PK Mukherjee, Sesa's "big nob" in Goa.

You might find it savagely ironic that this video was screened on NDTV, barely 36 hours after the disaster in which at least 25 workers - and possibly as many as a hundred – workers died, while constructing Vedanta’s Korba power plant in Chhattisgarh.

[Financial note: Earlier this year, Vedanta said it was raising its 53.1% stake in Sesa Goa to around 55%, using existing funds. Sterlite's US$1 billion convertible US bond (ADR) issue in June 2009 was designed for unspecified acquisitions and other capital expenditure. Vedanta announced that its takeover of Goa-based mining company, V S Dempo & Co Ltd, in early June, would be funded from existing cash balance [Dow Jones, 12 June 2009]

Watch the NDTV video:

“Sesa Goa plans to raise $500 million via FCCB. PK Mukherjee, the MD, said the company has huge growth plans and it is looking to expand it capacity to 50 million tones in two to three years.”

http://www.ndtv.com/news/videos/video_player.php?id=1160656

Colamb RTI applicant Motes Antao released

The right to information application filed by anti-mining activist Motes Antao of Colomba Quepem against the police officials of Quepem police station cost him police custody on September 25, 2009 causing one more landmark in the ongoing movement against Goa's nefarious mining industry.

Motes Antao informed that by application dated 14/8/2009 filed under RTI before S.P. South he had asked for detail personal information of P.I. Santosh Dessai, ASI Prakash Dessai and H.C. Arvind Nagekar of Quepem police station.

On Thursday evening PC Vinod of Quepem Police station approached residence of Motes Antao at Colomba to deliver the letter issued by the SP South and the DGP, calling upon Antao to collect the information asked by him under RTI .Motes could be contacted and as family member did not accept the letter, said PC Vinod Kept a message at the residence of Motes to collect the letter on Friday morning, informed Motes Antao.

Motes Antao further informed that Friday morning at around 8.45 am he appeared at the Quepem police station and collected the letter issued by the SP south and the DIG and after collecting the letters he was coming out of the police station at which time he was stopped by ASI Prakash Dessai and arrested him under the garb of a complaint of 28/11/2008 filed by one Shri C.S.Patil Asst. Personal Manager of Hiralal Khodidas Mine - operated by Fomento mining company in Motes' village of Colomba in Sanguem against him - and booked him under section 143, 341, 506 r/w. section 149 of IPC.

In reply to the bail application by Motes Antao before JMFC Sanguem the Quepem police stated that that he was absconding and was avoiding arrest , however in April 2009 the Quepem police arrested him on the garb of another offence. "How can the police says that I was absconding , why the police had not arrested me in April 2009 in respect of this case too, in which they had arrested me today?" Motes Questioned.

"The present arrest of mine is to take a grudge for applying detail information under RTI as ASI Prakash Dessai is also the investigation officer in the cr.No.82/08 dated 28/11/2008 informed" said Motes Antao.

Said Motes Antao is released by the JMFC Sanguem on the surety of Rs.2000/- late evening of September 25, 2009.

Meanwhile Rama Velip stated that as new mining season is starting the Quepem police are trying to trap the anti-mining activist by registering false complaints and falsely arresting them.

Tribal farmers cry for market space, want CM to intervene

Agitated tribal farmers from hilly areas of Quepem taluka on Thursday marched to the residence of the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat to demand for a permanent space in the commercial capital to sell locally grown vegetable and fruits.

The farmers, however, returned home without meeting the Chief Minister since he was not available at his residence.

Led by Santosh Raikar, the farmers contended they were promised a space in the commercial capital to market locally growing vegetables and fruits, but in vain. The farmers said they are ready to conduct their business outside the SGPDA market complex for the time being till the government finds out a permanent place for them.

Raikar said the farmers are tribal people who have no place to sit and sell their products in the city. “These tribal people sit in the hot sun to eke out their living to enjoy their daily break and meet their family needs’, he added.

He claimed that the Margao Municipality is harassing the poor farmers in the city and request the authorities to provide these vendors alternate space outside the SGPDA market complex pending the finalization of a permanent venue.

The farmers rally came two days after the Margao Municipal Council asked the farmers not to occupy the footpaths after the Margao Traffic Cell pointed out that their presence could result in accidents on the road opposite the Central Bank of India.

Herald, September 25, 2009, Panaji

28 mines have no nod to operate: GSPCB

Twenty-eight mines in Goa are found to be without the necessary “consent to operate” from the Goa State Pollution Control Board, which is investigating whether these mines were still in operation.

Chaiman GSPCB Simon de Souza said even though the 28 mines have necessary environmental clearance they need the consent to operate to comply with all the conditions laid down in the environmental clearance.

De Souza said the board would be issuing show-cause notices to mines which have violated the terms and conditions of its consent to operate. “We would be writing to the Directorate of Mines to find out whether these mines were in operation or not,” he mentioned.

He mentioned on the other side there were some mines that have obtained the nesesary consent to operate from the Board but it wasn’t known whether these were operating. We are in the process of finding out, he added.

He said these 28 mines without consent to operate are from the 78 to whom the board had written letters asking them to come clear on their forest and wildlife clearances.

“From out of the 78 mines, we have received 57 replies. Evaluation of the replies has revealed that 32 of these mines have no forest clearances and four have replied they don’t require any clearances to operate,” he informed and added 21 mines haven’t replied.”

The chairman said the claims of the four mines stating forest and wildlife clearances were not required to operate have to be investigated.

De Souza said the board hasn’t received any reply from the chief conservator of forest on 12 mines, the issue of which was raised by legislator Reginaldo Lourenco during the assembly session. “We had written a letter to the CCF some time back asking for information on the clearances of these mines,” he stated.

He said the Department of Science and Technology had also sounded the board about these 12 mines. “We would be now writing to the Department of Science and Technology communicating to it that the CCF has not bothered to reply to the board with information,” he mentioned.

Earlier the board had asked 13 mines to suspend operations for not having the necessary forest and wildlife clearances. Out of these five had appealed in administrative tribunal. Out of five, Sesa Goa mine at Codlim managed to obtain a stay on the closure directive.

The other four mines – three belonging to VS Dempo and Hiru Bambo Gawas – are awaiting a hearing into their pleas on September 25.

Another two mines – Kunda Gharse (Tudou village, Sanguem) and Manuel D’Costa (Patiem, Uguem, Sanguem) – of these 13 have obtained the necessary forest clearances as laid down by the board.

Hearld, September 25, 2009, Panaji

Friday, September 25, 2009

Motesh Antao of Colamb under arrest at Quepem Police Station

Colamb villager Motesh Antao has been arrested at Quepem Police Station today morning at 9.15 am. he was called to the police station to collect information he had sought detail information of three police officials - PI Santosh Desai, PSI Prakash Desai and HC Arvind Nagekar- under Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI).

According to the sources Motesh was threatened at the police station for filing application under RTI and then under the garb of some previous - yet to be known cases - was detained and arrest proceedings initiated against him. It is not yet known as what are the contends of his RTI letters that jittered police officials to such an extend to behave in this uncalled for, vengeful manner.

According to police officials at Quepem police station Motesh Antao has been arrested under sections 143, 341 and 506 read with 149 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Date of offence is not yet known. You may call up Qupem Police Station at its land line: 0832-2662253 and find out the latest on this matter.

Motesh Antao called up from the custody of Police at around 10.10 am and informed that he has been taken for medical check up. His call came from land line: 0832-2662253. Just as he was giving details of his arrests his phone line got cut after background voice of accompanying police officer that you have to inform only that you are arrested and nothing more.

What is tragic in this whole episode still unfolding is that the citizen is called at the police station to collect information sought under RTI and then threatened and arrest effected on previous cases. This is indeed a very very sad day for democracy in India. We need to mourn the death soon and help democracy resurrect again. Motesh Antao is a torch bearer that all the freedom loving people of the world ought to be proud of for people of Colamb are indeed continuously extending boundaries of democracy, boundaries of freedom via their practice. Goa is proud of this village in Colamb.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chimney collapse in Chatisgarh Vedanta Thermal Power Plant

At least 15 workers have been killed and at least 50 are feared trapped after a building collapse in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, officials say.

Officials say that a chimney caved in on more than 100 workers during construction work at a thermal power plant.

The accident happened in the town of Korba, 200km (124 miles) from the state capital Raipur.

The plant is being built by Bharat Aluminium Co Ltd (Balco).Balco is a unit of London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta Plc, whose business activities are mostly in India.

'Chaos'

"It's a massive accident," Ratanlal Dangi, district superintendent of police, told the Reuters news agency.

"We have launched a rescue and relief operation to save about 50 workers and engineers trapped inside."

Chhattisgarh state police spokesman RK Vij told the AFP news agency that there were "over 100 labourers working on the site when the chimney fell" and that police believed that 60 to 70 more people could be still trapped under the debris.

"There is chaos at the plant. Labourers are helping the rescue team to pull people out of the debris," Mr Vij said.

Television footage showed desperate rescue efforts under way to bring out those trapped by the chimney's collapse as family members waited anxiously for news of relatives.

"Seven injured people have been brought to hospital," Balco General Manager BK Srivastava told AFP."

A chimney of 275 metres was being constructed, 100 metres were already completed. There was heavy rain and lightning when the incident occurred," he said.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said a judicial investigation had been ordered into the accident.

A recent report by the UN's International Labour Organisation said that nearly 50,000 Indians die from work-related accidents or illness every year.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8271423.stm

Goa Mining Issues: Summary with urgent appeals at the conference of bankers financing Vedanta in London on September 22, 2009

Currently open cast iron ore, manganese and bauxite mining is posing grave threat the State of Goa in India. There is tremendous pressure on land, water, housing, quality of air, agriculture, fisheries and forest cover due to mining industry. Mining has progressively ruined areas under mining for over half a century and it continues to do so with very high pace with sophisticated mechanization of the industry in place.

Goa’s ground water is major casualty as for the purpose of mining ground water is pumped out of the mining pits and released into the rivers/rivulets. This pumping out of water has caused depletion of ground water in manner unimaginable by the people of Goa. As a consequence of this People’s wells in the villages where mines are located has gone dry and People are compelled to depend upon mining companies for the supply of water in tankers for all purposes. The village of Pissurlem in Sattari taluka is one such example where amongst number of mining companies in operation there is Sesa Goa as well. Goa’s major dams namely Selaulim in Saanguem, Assanora in Bardez-Bicholim border and Opa in Ponda that supply water through Public Works department for People, irrigation and industry has operating mining leases in their reservoir catchments areas. Sesa Goa mines in Advalpal is in close proximity to Assanora Water Works that supplies water to Bardez taluka.

Agriculture is another casualty of the prosperity of mining in Goa. For the past few decades agriculture has been badly shattered by the mining industry due to large amount of silt deposits in the cultivable paddy fields. Pissurlem is again very important example where large track of paddy field is forced to abandon cultivation for the reasons of mining silt into the fields. Sesa Goa has its mining going on in this area. Sirgao village is Bicholim taluka is another casualty of mining industry prosperity over the past 40 years. Farmers are forced to abandon the village agricultural fields due to large amount of deposits of mining rejections into the field and simultaneous drying up of natural water bodies like springs that traditionally supplied water to the fields. Dempo mining company has one of its mines in this village as well. Large number of water bodies has either dried up or is polluted with very high turbidity. This includes majority of rivers and their tributaries in Goa.

Air pollution is rampant in Goa’s mining belt. Health of People including Women and children is badly affected. There is high level of lung diseases prevalent in the mining belt. Asthma and tuberculosis are very common. Water shortages and water pollution has also caused number of health related problem. There are reports that people in Goa’s mining belt has rate of kidney failure cases. Housing is another very important question in mining belt in Goa. Due to blasting, flooding, mine collapse and expansion of mining area people’s habitat has received severe blow. Large numbers of houses are affected and many people are living under constant risks. Mining leases occupy over 67,000 hectares of Goa’s land while manufacturing industry occupies little over 1,500 hectares of land. Manufacturing industry contributes more to Goa’s economy than mining industry.

Forest is another major casualty. Mining covers over hundred mining leases are located in Western Ghats forest – thick evergreen forest– one of the world’s 12 bio-diversity hotspots declared by United Nations. There are routine violations of sanctity of forest and mining companies are regular offenders. Wildlife sanctuaries such as Mhadei and Netravali face constant pressure from the mining industry. Mining inside the sanctuaries though is legally banned it still goes on. There is also mining going on in its buffer zones of 15 kilometers. Sattari, Bicholim, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona are officially recognized by the Goa Government via its Regional Plan 2021 as Western Ghats talukas due to dense forest cover presence. Hence no mining must be tolerated in this talukas.

People of Goa are fighting the battle of survival. You are invited to join them. Its better in Goa without mining. It is one of the beautiful tourist destinations in the World. Help Goa to retain its beauty, retain its pure air, and retain its water sources. Water is life! We in want want to live a vibrant life in happiness. Mining rewards us with collective misery and death. Mining is creating a disaster that is irreversible. Even Sesa Goa’s much publicized for public relations reasons so called reclaimed mine at Virdi in Bicholim taluka is maintained by pumping out large amount of water from nearby Valvanti river. We hear of Sesa Goa’s plans to pump out water from this river and use it for its Pig Iron Plant located at the distance of nearly 8 kilometers at Amona, Bicholim on the banks of Mandovi River. Coastal Zone Regulations (CRZ) in India hardly bother Sesa Goa’s Pig Pig Iron plant!

It is urgent appeal to Vedanta to exclude Goa from its mining operations and avoid major injury to the planet earth and to Goa.

It is an urgent appeal to all the banks involved in lending finance to Vedanta to immediately rethink your business. Financing Vedanta is financing destruction of Goa.


Vedanta operates Sesa Goa and Dempo mines in Goa.

Sebastian Rodrigues
Convenor
Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP)

These school students have mining dust for company

HERALD REPORTER
PANJIM, SEPT 23

The 12 students of Sonshi Government Primary School in Sattari have nothing, but mining dust for company during their school hours. There is no playground of or any open space in front of the school. No sooner the students step out of their classrooms they are catapulted into the thick of mining activities.

Convenor GOAMAP Senastian Rodrigues in a presentation held in the city on Wednesday highlighted how five mining companies surrounding the school have violated environmental and all possible laws there are.

Rodrigues said the presentation was prepared by one Advocate Krishnendu Mukherjee from Kolkata who has been in Goa for some time. He had done a study on the school tow months back during the monsoons, he mentioned.

The study shows mining overburden has been dumped upto 10 metres from the steps of the school. There has been no running water in the school ever since Sesa Goa beneficiation plant started operating next to the school somewhere in 2003.

The mining companies surrounding the school are involved in heavy encroachment as the original area, 650 square metres, in which the institution was housed has depleted over the years.

Rodrigues said the Department of Education failed to give any proper response to RTI request concerning educational standards at the school and the Goa State Pollution Control Board didn’t carry any tests on air, water or noise pollution surrounding the institution.

During the rainy season one can find polluted rain water near the school because of the mining in its surrounding.

Sonshi Government Primary School was set up in 1964. It has a sole teacher for the last eight years who has been trying hard to get transfer but the same has been refused.

When questioned if the school could be amalgamated with another government institution, Ramesh Gauns said the next school was at the distance of 9-10 kilometers. There are many reasons why this school can’t be amalgamated with another school, he added.

Gauns said there are several such schools that are affected due to mining.

Rodrigues said their aim was to add one more dimension to their campaign by exposing how mining was damaging school infrastructure. “We will do a study and come out with details of schools affected by mining,” he stated.

Herald, September 24, 2009, Panaji

Mining causes concern to Sattari schools

BY A STAFF REPORTER

Panjim: It is a common knowledge that mining activities being undertaken in the hinterlands of the state affect the flora and fauna but a study by a human rights activist Adv Krishnendu Mukherjee has now brought a startling reality to the fore, schools in the Sattari taluka are also badly affected by the mines resulting in a decrease in a the attendance of the students studying there.

Adv Mukherjee conducted a research of the Sonshi school, Sattari in the last twon months that was presented by anti-mining activist Seby Rodrigues at institute Piedade recently. In the research, it was stated that this school is surrounded by five mines, including Sesa Goa.

This Marathi-medium government primary school has one teacher for just 12 students whose attendance is on decline due to the mining activity, says the study that also points out to further hardships being faced by the school during the monsoons.

During the monsoons, the polluted rainwater from the mines flows near the school. So also the mining rejects are being dumped within 10 metres from the school steps. Besides, the school lacks running water facility due to the presence of a beneficiation plant of Sesa Goa that is operational from 2003 in this area, states Mukherjee, who further claims that the Goa Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has not done any test on the air and water around the school.

He also alleges that “this is a violation of the student’s right to education, besides other environmental violations concerning air, water and noise pollution as well as encroachment of the government land by Sesa Goa.”

A teacher-cum-activist Ramesh Gawas also pointed out that “this school was started in the year1964 much before the mining activities commenced there. At that time, the area was 600 sq metres but now it is nearly 250 sq metres.” Gawas added “there is no play ground for the students.” He further lamented that this is the state of all the schools functioning in the mining areas and that the low admission rate in these schools could be attributed to the ongoing mining activities and their hazards.

Gomantak Times, September 24, 2009, Panaji

Mining Affects edu in rural areas: Study

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Panaji: For the 12 students of the government primary school at Sonshi in Sattari taluka, the first wondrous years of learning are a test of endurance in a school located amid the noise of mining machinery, the dust of mines and the sight of red earth all around.

“The view from this school is not of green fields and birds. The children here grow up seeing only red mining dust,” said anti-mining activist Seby Rodrigues. Through a slide presentation to the media, Rodrigues portrayed how mining has adversely affected the primary school in Sonshi. However, he added that the Sonshi is only one example of how mining has affected the primary education of young children in many parts of Goa. The study was conducted by Krishnendu Mukherjee, a lawyer and environmentalist.

The school had about 600 square metres of land around it when it started in 1964. Subsequently, four mines came up around the school with a fifth mining company setting up its beneficiation plant in front of the school. “Now the school has only about 250 square metres left. Clearly there is an encroachment by the mining companies. There is mining overburden dumped up to 10 meters from the steps of the school,” said Rodrigues.

The study shows how during the monsoons, polluted rainwater runs close to the school. At other times of the year, the children have to bear the elevated noise and dust levels within the school caused by heavy machinery and trucks. The study expresses fears that the mining slurry may contain arsenic and cause contamination due to polluted waters. According to the study, the Goa state pollution control board has not conducted any tests on air, water or noise pollution surrounding the school.

Mukherjee said that one aim of the study is to establish whether there are violations by the mining companies and also by the education department. ‘Mining should improve the local economy. But here we have a case where children are adversely affected by it. Our study is ongoing and we are waiting for evidence of violations. On the face of it, this seems to be the case. We will give our findings to the government and the mining companies,” Mukherjee said.

His research began in April 2008, but information has been hard to obtain. The education department “failed to give any proper responses” under RTI. Also, the lone teacher at the school is reluctant to say anything for fear of losing his job. And may be his life. After the teacher spoke to the researcher, a guard was posted outside the school for few days. The teacher has requested for a transfer several times. All his requests have been denied.

Has the number of students at Sonshi school decreased? Mukherjee said he is awaiting this information which he has applied for under RTI from the education department. But apparently, the children of Sonshi do not have much of a choice. The next government primary school is in Sanquelim, 10 kilometers away.

Times of India, September 24, 2009, Panaji

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sesa Goa mining leases in Goa

Colour guide to read the statistics of Vedanta's mining leases in the State of Goa, India:
Orange is serial number.
Pink is T.C. number that is the code to refer to the mine.
Green is area of land in hectares.
Yellow is a name of the mine.
Red is name of village where mining lease is located.
Blue indicates the talukas of mining lease.

01
Satari
T.C. 28/51
Botvadeacho dongor
6.4.1951
T.T.30.9.57
23.9585 Hactares
Pissurlem
Fe/Mang

02
Bicholim
T.C. 76/52
Orasso Dongor
8.9.1952
99.4 hectares
Advalpale
Iron

03
Satari
T.C. 65/53
Potvol, Modhlovaddo etc.
17.7.1953
T.T. 13.2.1957
77.93 hectares
Velguem
Fe/Mang

04
Sanguem
T.C. 26/55
Cajumolla etc.
9.7.1955
T.T. 16.1.1957
43 hectares
Sancordem
Fe/Mang

05
Bardez
T.C. 32/55
Sem denominacao especial
30.6.1955
T.T. 30.7.1955
43 hectares
Pirna - Nadora
Fe/Mang

06
Bicholim
T.C. 38/58
Toleachi Add etc.
11.8.1958
99.5788 hectares
Arvalem
Iron

07
Sanguem
T.C. 39/58
Ambeaculna
11.8.1958
92.295 hectares
Santona
Iron

08
Sanguem
T.C. 78/59
Cazulem Cazuleancho Condo etc
13.10.1959
64.952 hectares
Sancordem
Fe/Mang

09
Satari
T.C. 79/59
Vagacho dongor Marsaglacho etc.
7.10.59
99.435 hectares
Xelopa
Fe/Mang

10
Sanguem
T.C. 6/60
Nagonem Borod
29.1.60
66.9 hectares
Colem
Iron

11
Bicholim & Bardez
T.C. 7/60
Bag Moitem de Palvel
5.2.60
99.9 hectares
Advalpale & Assanora
Iron

12
Sanguem
T.C. 64/59
Santona Vadi Soddo e ter. adjusts.
28.9.59
98.6 hectares
Santona
Iron

Sesa Goa - as above list - held 12 mining leases covering 908.9493 hectares of Goa’s precious land; from June 11, 2009 onwards it aquired additional - all mining leases in Goa - of Dempo mining corporation as follow:


01
Bicholim
T.C. 11/41
Lamgao
20.8.41
TT of 20.10.58
100 hectares
Lamgao
Iron

02
Bicholim
T.C. 12/41
Vagachiper
20.08.41
TT of 20.10.58
99.96 hectares
Bicholim
Iron

03
Bicholim
T.C. 13/41
Goatoor
20.8.41 TT of 20.10.58
99.5 hectares
Bordem
Iron

04
Bicholim
T.C. 14/41
Toticho mor dongor
20.8.41 TT of 20.10.58
99.91 hectares
Mulgao
Iron

05
Bicholim
T.C. 15/41
Mandurbaga
20.8.41 TT of 20.10.58
99.55 hectares
Mulgao
Iron

06
Sanguem
T.C. 7/50
Culnavoril Sodo
30.1.50 TT of 1.8.56
38.8428 hectares
Dudal
Fer/Mang

07
Sanguem
T.C. 3/51
Cantor
30.1.50
97.6775 hectares
Curpem
Fer/Mang

08
Sanguem
T.C. 43/51
Navientil Galivoril Advona, Nagona etc.
18.5.51 TT of 13.6.56
100 hectares
Aglote
Fer/Mang

09
Sanguem
T.C. 35/52
Tambessoddo
4.4.52
98.46 hectares
Colomba
Fer/Mang

10
Bicholim
T.C. 37/52
Candulgo
4.4.52
100 hectares
Codali or Carapur
Iron

11
Canacona
T.C. 87/52
Chedeudongor & Dardongor
18.10.52 TT of 9.11.55
92.5 hectares
Nuem
Iron

12
Satari
T.C. 95/52
Marsoddo
14.11.52
98.777 hectares
Pissurlem
Fer/Mang

13
Satari
T.C. 5/54
Onvalienchi Math
22.1.54
96.6448 hectares
Onvaliem
Iron

14
Satari
T.C. 20/54
Onvalienchem Paltona
5.3.54
90.9542 hectares
Ouvaliem
Iron

15
Bicholim
T.C. 21/54
Tolpi e Mardando
5.3.54
65.794 hectares
Cudne & Surla
Iron

16
Sanguem
T.C. 22/54
Borcotem
5.3.54
69.747 hectares
Colem
Fer/Mang

17
Sanguem
T.C. 40/54
Sem denominacao especial
22.10.54
51.05 hectares
Curpem
Fer/Mang

18
Canacona
T.C. 37/59
Rajabaga e terrenos adjacentes
10.8.59
100 hectares
Canaguinim (Cola)
Fer/Mang

19
Bicholim
T.C. 17/60
Gorbaim Golacho tembo
29.4.60
70.687 hectares
Navelim e Surla
Iron


Total area covered by Dempo's mining leases acquired by Sesa Goa (Vedanta) is 1670.0543 hectares. Dempos had 19 mining leases of which 13 are in operation and includes 21 mines.

With the addition of Dempo’s mining leases its total of mining leases went up to 31 mining leases covering total land of 2579.0036 hectares.

Ramesh Gauns and Sebastian Rodrigues

Foral de Goa

A CODE OF GOVERNANCE

Maria de Lourdes bravo da Costa Rodrigues writes about the first Indo-Portuguese document that codified the local laws, customs, and taxes and was adopted by the rulers to govern Goa.

The Foral de Goa or what is commonly known as the ‘Foral de Afonso Mexia’, as he headed the committee responsible for the codification, is the first Indo-Portuguese document issued by the Portuguese document issued by the Portuguese in Goa and conceded by King D Joao III to the gaoncares, tenants, residents and settles of the villages and islands of the city of Goa. It was issued by royal orders on 16th September, 1526, by Afonso Mexia, the Vedor of Fazenda (inspector of the revenue office).

The objective of the foral was to find out the rights, traditional uses and customs which the people followed and the rights and privileges which the Portuguese crown should maintain. It also sought to know what the people paid to the rulers of the territory before the Portuguese took over, especially in relation to inheritance, taxes, obligations and other duties.

The foral was meant for the citizens of islands under the Portuguese which consisted of Tissuari, Divar, Chorao and Jua. Amongst these, the island of Goa was the biggest and the most important. In Portugal, the foral was a royal charter conceded by the king, or any other lay or ecclesiastical authority, to a certain territory, containing norms that discipline the relations of its settlers or inhabitants between themselves or with the crown, and to fix the contribution to the royal treasury.

When Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa there were various usages and customs under which the territory was administered by the rulers before the arrival of the Portuguese. They decided to continue with them, not to displease the people, and to codify them. They invited important and knowledgeable people in Goa and with their help recorded them.

The foral has 48 clauses in which the most important and significant usages and customs are recorded. When the need arose, the government added to the clauses the necessary amendment or addition. For example on 14 August 1534, the first correction was made with additions at the request of Goans, by Nuno da Cunha, governor of Goa, in settlement of case of Sinay brothers.

In the first clause, the foral tells us that in the organization of the islands each village of those islands had certain number of Gaoncares. Gaoncare means governor, administer and benefactor. Although the foral does not give us the correct origin of Goa it mentions in the same clause that four men were the first settlers of the land who were known as gaoncares for having cultivated, administered and governed well the territory. Clause two gives the list of villages that are part of the Islands of Tissuary. Since the structure of the foral also has as its objective to guarantee collection of rents, clause two to seven is on taxation.

At large it is a study of Goan society. It tells us about administration, politics and economics of the society. It describes the day-to-day life and the important roles exercised by the gaoncares in social affairs. They had privileges in relation to the other members of the comunidade. These were not only in decision making and power but also in public functions as well as in the day-to-day matters. They behaved as if they were the rightful owners of the comunidade. For example, they had to be served first the betel leaf for social functions. Even when the government honored them with a pachori – a white coloured tunic, thrown on the shoulder of the one honoured – the important gaoncar had the privilege to be the first one. Dancers too performed first at the main gaoncar’s house and harvesting started at his field. It was a male-dominated society with woman’s role relegated to the house, with no right to voice any ideas in public. In judicial matters the gaoncares were heard by local authorities and decisions taken accordingly.

Though the gaoncares had a number of privileges they were responsible to collect the taxes on behalf of the king and send it to him, and those from the island of Tissuary, Divar, Chorao and Jua (St Estevam) had to annually, at their cost, clean the wall and city of Goa of grass and other growth as well as undertake other services that came up from time to time.

The foral also mentions at clause 39 penal punishment in case of some sins. For example, if gaoncares of the island of Chorao or other islands ran away to the Muslims, their land and movables would be auctioned to the people as well as the right to gaoncarias. The rules for lending money and recovery of the loan are mentioned from clauses 22 to 24. Clause 25 listed those who could not be witnesses in matters wherever required. Other important points in the foral include inheritance and partition, the abuses of the royal officers and the gaoncares, the fines and action against culprits.

Though the foral does not give in detail the social life of others besides the gaoncares and does not speak about the Muslims who must have been in Goa, it throws light on the lifestyle and governance of Goa not only in the beginning of the Portuguese rule but prior to it as well.


Times of India, September 16, 2009, Panaji

Polluting Our Water Sources

The flow of mud and other residue from the taps, especially in South Goa, can have an adverse effect on the health of the consumers. The Selaulim reservoir is the biggest water source in Goa and it has been reported that fourteen mines operating around the Selaulim reservoir discharge their waste into it.

This is a serious matter which calls for immediate action by the government, as the health of the citizens should be high on the government’s priority list. Just recently, the matter about illegal mining was debated in the Goa Assembly. Obviously much more needs to be done to prevent the pollution of our water sources.

Adelmo Fernandes, Vasco in Herald, September 21, 2009, Panaji

It will be proved that the killed animal was a tiger: Kerkar

Villgers of Keri-Sattari want to maul him for throwing light on an issue, which was dead months ago. Rajendra Kerkar, environmentalist and founder of Vivekananda Environmental Awareness Brigade, who exposed the alleged killing of a tiger in the village says he won’t buckle under pressure and would not stop his mission and that he would continue to take up issues affecting the environment including the proposed Charvanem dam.

VITHALDAS HEGDE gets an insight into the ‘Green’ man.

GT: Why is that you have been at the receiving end ever since you exposed the alleged killing of a tiger at Keri-Sattari?
Rajendra Kerkar (RK): It all started after a tiger was killed on a hillock at Keri. The tiger was killed somewhere in February and I came to know about it only a fortnight ago. The son of the main suspect had stored the photograph of the slain tiger on his computer and sent photo messages to his friends on cell phones.

Our volunteers of Vivekananda Environment Awareness Brigade also got his photo message and I immediately informed the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Shashi Kumar. When the incident was reported in newspapers it created ripples in the village. The officials of the forest department rushed to Keri and started investigations even as there were political pressures to hush up the case.

VH: Was tiger really killed in the village?
RK: Yes. Our volunteers saw the carcass lying on the hillock after animal was shot dead. Once the news of forest officials visiting the village spread, the suspects immediately buried the carcass.

The animal was killed after it got entangled in a trap laid by the poachers to nab wild animals. Entangled, the tiger which must have come in search of its prey, started frantically running to the village making rattling noise much to the fear of the villagers.

The forest department officials first quizzed me and told them to try and locate the carcass. They later nabbed five suspects and during the course of investigations they broke down and showed them the place where the carcass was buried.

Forest officials found tiger bones and collected specimen of other parts like jaws, teeth, fur and bones from the site and sent it to Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for forensic test.

VH: But the forensic report indicates that the teeth and blood samples do not belong to a tiger. Comment
RK: It is a preliminary report sent by the Wildlife Institute of India, which states that the teeth and blood samples found on leaves do not match with the tiger. The forest officials had sent 10 to 12 samples of the tiger remnants to the Wildlife Institute of India for forensic test. I am hopeful that the report of forensic test of other parts, which are yet to be received, would prove that they belong to that of tiger.

The Chief Conservator of Forests has also said that it is a preliminary report and and full-fledged report is awaited.

VH: Are you optimistic about the pending report?
RK:
yes. I am very much hopeful that the reports of other samples would prove that the killed animal was a tiger. For me there is no issue of the parts of the animal found there, what is more important is that a national animal – tiger was killed in the village. Unfortunately, there are some forest officials (having vested interests) who do not believe that tigers exist in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. This is mainly because the tiger sightings would come under the Project Tiger launched by the Government of India and headed by the Prime Minister.

They are not working in the interest of Wildlife.

VH: What is your future plan of action in combating the poaching of animals in wildlife areas?
RK:
The rampant poaching incidents have become a major concern for us and they try to ruin other species. There is presence of a tiger, a tigress and a cub in wildlife area and they should be protected.

The forest department should take stringent steps to curb the poaching of herbivorous animals and curtail deforestation activities. The government launched the Social Forestry project in a most unscientific manner and without understanding the topography of the area and floral density. They planted exotic species like acacia in the wildlife area when it was not required.

The government should also increase the staff of the forest department, provide mobile squad to deal with wildlife cases and conduct awareness on environment education.

VH: How would you react to the decision of some of the villagers denouncing you for taking up the tiger killing issue?
RK:
In a democracy everybody has a right to make his point. But they are raising baseless arguments without having proper knowledge. I won’t be deterred by their decisions. We have dedicated and devoted volunteers in the Vivekananda Environment Awareness Brigade who are working for the environment cause. I will not stop my mission and would continue to take up issues affecting the environment including the proposed Charvanem dam, which has been stopped now.


Gomantak Times, September 21, 2009, Panaji.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Public discussion on mining disturbing Goa's education facilities

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) will organise public discussion on open cast iron ore and manganese mining disturbing Goa’s education facilities.

Power point presentation by Advocate Krishnendu Mukherjee with case study of Government Primary School, Sonshi, Sattari will be screened at 4.00 pm on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at Institute Piedade hall, near State Bank of India, Panjim.


All are cordially invited specially the students, parents and teachers from mining areas whose schools are affected with open cast mining activities.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

UNION ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY FINED RS. 10,000 BY COURT

18th September, 2009


A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising of Justices S.D. Deshmukh and U.D. Salvi has imposed a fine of Rs.10,000 on the present Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India for not filing an affidavit the High Court had asked for in a petition on forest protection pending before it.

The order which was issued on 14th September, 2009 – and which became available to petitioners today – recounts that the concerned Secretary was directed to file an affidavit on 25th March, 2009 clarifying whether mining leases which have environment clearances but which do not have forest clearance can commence or conduct mining operations.

The issue has been raised in two writ petitions filed by The Goa Foundation v/s the State of Goa (722 of 2008 and 136 of 2008). Both petitions are PILs and concern illegal operations of mines on leases on which there is both private and government forest.

The standing counsel for the Central Government on 25th March 2009 told the court he should be granted more time to file an affidavit in the matter. He also informed the court that the Environment Secretary himself would file the affidavit before the next date of hearing. The petition was admitted on 26th March and the court ordered the petition to be listed for final hearing on 16th June 2009. But both on 16th June – and on 7th July to which hearing of the petition was further adjourned – no affidavit was filed. After Standing Counsel for Union of India requested 4 more weeks’ time, the court finally gave the Secretary “a last chance” till 11th August, 2009.

On 11th August the High Court found that the affidavit had still not been filed and the matter was adjourned at the request of the counsel to 14th September, 2009. On 14th September, the advocate now sought additional two months’ time and presented a letter signed by K.S. Reddy, Chief Conservator of Forests, simply asking that extension of time be granted. No explanation or grounds were set out.

The court recorded: “It seems to be an intentional move to stall the hearing of the petition wherein interim relief is in favour of one party and against the petitioner.”

The court directed the Secretary to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000, the money coming not from the exchequer but from his own pocket. The court issued a fresh order directing the Secretary to file his affidavit by 6th October, 2009. If it was not ready by that date the Secretary would have to be present in court and the court would consider whether he was entitled to travel and dearness allowance and appropriate order would be passed on that day.

Several mining leases continue to work in Goa despite having forest on them on the grounds that they are working in the non-forest area of the mining lease. The Forest Conservation Act 1980 covers all contingencies including working in non-forest areas of mining leases. Officials of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, however, have gone out of their way to entertain every demand of the mining lobby in Goa for obvious considerations. The Foundation has charged that the delay in the filing of the affidavit is squarely to help the mining lobby to extract the ore from the leases as expeditiously as possible and to allow the irreversible destruction of the standing forest before the law catches up with the mine owners.



Dr Claude Alvares

Director, Goa Foundation

Aakash Naik: I will fight the mining lobby

Just when the villagers of Advalpal had resigned themselves to their fate, a tiny 9-year-old boy, Aakash, took up the cudgels against the mining giant, making it bite the dust. Thanks to a PIL filed in the High Court by him through his mother along with Goa Foundation against the mining excesses, the High Court in a landmark judgement restrained the Company from mining at Assanora.

In a chat with RAJESH CHODANKAR the ‘chotta’ hero, Aakash Shyamsundar Naik, talks about his resolve to save Advalpal village from certain death.


GT: What inspired you to fight the mining lobby at such an early age?

Aakash Naik (AN): I know this is the age to make fun and study but I felt that the villagers were not feeling secure from politicians and police in their battle against mining. Under such circumstances it was my duty to shoulder the responsibility in the interest of villagers.

GT: What do you feel will happen if the mining continues unhindered?

AN: The mining project, which has been stayed, would have destroyedAdvalpal village, its fauna, natural heritage, water reservoirs like springs, wells etc. However, had this project continued entire village would have not have survived. So, in order to avoid this ill-effect it was my duty to stand against mining.

GT: What are the ill effects, which you think took place when the mining was in progress?

AN: The mining project devastated almost the entire village during last monsoon. It was the blessing of the almighty, which saved our village from casualties. I cannot forget one of the dreadful nights of June 2009 in which a flurry of mining rejects along with muddy water stormed into our houses when we were fast asleep. I realized something had happened only the next day. In fact, the villagers brought this to the notice of the mining companies and politicians several times but fell on deaf and dump ears. During summer its worse because of dust pollution. I have fallen sick several times as a result of the pollution. The doctor advised my father either to shift me elsewhere or find other alternative.

And also, due to sound pollution I could not concentrate on my studies that’s why my father decided to shift me to Panjim at least when my exams are round the corner.

GT: Do you think the mining lobby will harass you after the HC judgment?

AN: We have been taught about Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who had shouldered the responsibility to fight against evils of society since his childhood. Taking the encouragement from him I have decided to shoulder this responsibility to fight against evils of society and if while doing so if I am harassed by the mining companies I am very well prepared to fight against them.

GT: What are your views on the decision of the High Court?

AN: There was a time when villagers had lost their hope, as there was none to support them. But, the High Court has respected the feelings of the villagers and has saved the entire village from devastation. We welcome the decision of the High Court and express confidence that this stay will last forever.


Gomantak Times September 19, 2009, Panaji

Lage raho Rajendra-bab!

Rajendra Kerkar, the green activist who exposed the killing of a tiger in Keri and forced the forest department to investigate the incident is now at the receiving end. The forest department is doing its best to prove that animal that was killed is not a tiger. The villagers of Keri, with prodding from powerful politicians, have moved against Kerkar. They have adopted a belligerent stance threatened to take him to court for defaming the village. Things can’t get worse for this dedicated green activist.

Rajendra-bab, when will you learn that honesty is not best policy? Why do you have to be so honest in a State that does not appreciate it? Why do you have to be so dedicated to saving the environment? Why do you have to fight night and day to save the foothills of the Western ghats from the ravages of mining? Why do you tax yourself with the job of saving the forests of Goa? Why do you waste your time fighting against Karnataka to save the Mhadei River from drying up? Why do you want to save tigers, barking deers, and panthers when you could easily find a job in the city? We warn you that if you continue like this no political party will consider you as a candidate for the next Assembly election. You will never be able to make friends in high places. Those entrusted with job of protecting the State will hound you till you stop.

Rajendra-bab, you must give up the mantle of protection and wear the cloak of poachers. Give up your pen, pick up a gun and go hunting. Stop all the talk about protecting forests and wildlife. Instead learn the art of cutting trees in the dead of the night. For a moment consider the amount of money you can make by selling the skin of a tiger or the meat of a deer. If you do not know, the scent of wild boar roast will bring tears to your eye. Have you ever thought of the money there is to be made by siding with the mine owners instead of the villagers? And, do you know how profitable it is to run a barge instead of soiling your entire being in the rough and tumble of the green movement?

Rajendra-bab, you are a law abiding citizen. You believe in saving the natural heritage of the State for future generations. You believe in saving the tiger and the fox. You believe in protecting natural resources. You want to save the Western Ghats and Mhadei river. You want to protect wild sanctuaries. You have a respect for all the God’s creatures and believe in reserving some space for them to flourish. But, when will you realize that all these ideals of yours place you on what wrong side of the establishment. Give up all these stupid beliefs of yours and one day you will get elected to the State Assembly. Shun these ideal of yours and you might rise to become a minister. Sell the green badge which you wear so proudly on your chest and one day you will be made Chief Conservator of Forests.

Rajendra-bab, you will not compromise. You will walk with a straight back and your head held high. You will continue to fight the good fight. We thank you for choosing the path of courage. It doesn’t matter if the animal shot was a tiger or an ass. The magicians in the forest department will take care of that. We are grateful that people of your caliber still walk the red soil of Goa.

Lage raho Rajendra-bab!



Opinion on edit page of Gomantak Times September 19, 2009, Panaji

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pictures of hidden stored in Advalpal Forest and notice of Sirsaim Communidade

On hills at Advalpal, Iron ore is stored and covered under the blue sheets.



Communidade of Sirsaim has put up a board with a notice that unauthorised vehicles are prohibited. However, in spite of the notice several trucks were cited passing through this land transporting Ore from Advalpal mines with Delhi number plates. It is not sure if they are authorised by the Communidade of Sirsaim to do so.

Vedanta (Dempos) threatens Assanora river

Mining on the banks of Assanora River has posed serious threat to Assanora river and all its life support systems. Assanora is under tidal influence and the operation is right on the banks of river. Rejection is dumped less than 5 meters on Assanora river banks. Pictures clicked on 8th September 2009.

Pictures are self explanatory.



Mining pit below ground water table on the banks of Assanora river.



































































































































































Vedanta (Dempos) filterbed at Dhabdaba, Bicholim

Dhabdaba in Bicholim is a filterbed of Vedanta (Dempo). Some pictures below:












Vedanta (Dempo) curse for Lamgao Water lakes in Goa

Bicholim has one of biggest mines of Vedanta amongst purchased from Dempos for Rs.1750 crores few months ago. These are pictures taken on single rainy day of September 05, 2009 from the company's mining site at Lamgao right up to Bicholim town.
Mining silt of Vedanta gets washed into Bicholim river. The above picture shows high turbidity of Bicholim river water. Bicholim river is one of the important tributaries or River Mandovi.


Bicholim river carries mining silt from the company's operations in Lamgao village.



Water from mining pit is being pumped out from the Vedanta's (Dempo) mining pit at Lamgao.




Dumps over dumps. Grass used to create stable conditions is disrupted with fresh dumps. As a consequence of this dangerous practice there is increase in mining silt flowing into the river.






View of second lake of Lamgao facing threat from these mining activities.







Collapse of rejection, runoff from the dumps allowed? This gets into the lakes via “mining drainage system”.








Mining run off into first lake of Lamgao









Mining silted water entering first lake of Lamgao.










Mining silted water entering first lake lake continuation of water flow...










Run off of mining silt to first lake continues...













Water released from mining pit into the first lake.











Mining silted water entering the first lake lake continuation...












Mining silted water entering the first lake lake further continuation...













Mining silted water entering the first lake lake further continuation...

















Mining silted water entering the first lake lake further continuation...













First lake location where traditional deiti Mhatrai temple was buried under the dempo mining rejection. New temple is under construction.












Dumping on “afforested areas”












The First Lake of Lamgao












Silted water body. Thanks to mining company.














Dumping on “afforested areas”. Dempos did "afforestation" and Vedanta is dumping mining rejects on top it all!












Lamgao caves under mining threats...














Lamgao's third lake














Lamgao's second lake under Vedanta threat
Ramesh Gauns and Sebastian Rodrigues