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