Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vendanta’s European financers apprised of mining exploits in Goa

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

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