Friday, September 18, 2009

Court restrains Sesa Goa from mining at Advalpal


PANJIM, SEPT 17 While Government turned a blind eye towards mining excesses in Advalpal, villagers today obtained relief from the High Court by virtue of a petition filed by a nine-year old boy who raised the question of sustainability.

The Bombay High Court at Goa on Thursday passed an order restraining Sesa Goa from mining Face 1 and Face 2 of the company’s iron ore mining lease at Advalpal village near Assonora.
The child, Akash Naik in his petition, filed through his mother Sharmila Naik together with Goa Foundation highlighted his grim future in a village that will neither have water nor paddy fields since the mining companies have destroyed all the nallahs, and the sediment from their mining activities has already damaged their paddy fields.

A Division Bench comprising Justice S B Deshmukh and U D Salvi issued the order after hearing arguments for over three hours when petitioner’s counsel Adv Norma Alvares brought out before Court how the company continued its activities in violation of its mining plan.
After the restraint order, the Court posted the matter for further hearing on October 8 to take on board the company’s proposal to remove within a specific time-frame the huge illegal mining dumps it had created along the Advalpal nallah.

Adv Norma explained in detail how Sesa Goa indulged in unsafe mining in violation of its approved mining plan. The petitioners had filed complaints first in March with the Indian Bureau of Mines that illegal dumps were being created by the company along the steep slopes bounding the nullah adjoining their settlement. However, IBM did not take any action except for writing letters.

On the night of June 6, the dumps collapsed in heavy rain and tonnes of mining silt and sediment overflowed into the nullah destroying the concrete embankment and entered people’s homes and paddy fields.

The petitioner alleged police did not file any FIR nor arrest anyone. On the other hand IBM visited the site ten days after the disaster and discovered that mining company had indeed violated its plan and a notice was issued.

The petitioner’s case was also strengthened by affidavit filed by the Deputy Controller of Mines which stated “that the mining company had violated the provision of the approved mining plan by not dumping the waste in the designated places.”

The site visit was carried out by Dr A N Murthy, Senior Mining Geologist who noted “the environment protection measures required to control the waste from going out of the dump was not adequate.”An expert committee appointed by the Goa Government, pursuant to High Court’s intervention, to examine the situation created by the disaster on June 6, also reported that “the nullah has choked up and overflown into the houses, which suggests that the drains and other related protective works could not cater to the requirement of the heavy rains.”

Herald, Panjim, September 18, 2009

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