Thursday, September 24, 2009

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
Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP)

1 comment:

onasis said...

united we can stand ..lets unite for a good cause