Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Storm brewing in Quepem taluka over mining plans


A storm is brewing in the Scheduled Tribe dominated areas of the hilly villages of Balli and Fatorpa and surrounding areas over plans to seek mining leases in this green belt.

What has stirred a hornet’s nest amongst the villagers is the decision by the revenue officials of Quepem taluka to invite suggestions and objections from the villagers over the mining leases sought by as many as 10 parties.

The villagers are disturbed over the fact that the applicants have asked to carry out mining in a huge area admeasuring 1806.30 hectares. If allowed, the local people fear the mining activity would spell doom for the environment and the rich flora and fauna, besides displacing the scheduled tribe people from the habitat.

Information gathered by Herald revealed that mining lease has been sought by one Praful R Kothari in an area spanning 261.50 hectares in Bendulem. Similarly one Amresh V Mehta has applied separately for mining leases at Fatorpa in land admeasuring 121.60 hectares and 91.20 hectares respectively.

Iva Mines and Maries have filed three applications for mining leases in Fatorpa and Quittol. The area sought to be covered under mining is 216.32, 151.40 and 49.57 hectares of land.

Another four applications have come from Nippa Mehta for mining leases of around 321.80 hectares in Coidem village, 102.71 and 178.40 hectares in Tiloy village.

Says Prakash Velip, president of United Tribal Associations Alliance (UTAA): “This is a matter for grave concern for the scheduled tribes which inhabit these hilly areas of Quepem taluka.

What has agitated Velip is the very attitude of the talathi of Balli village, who displayed the public notice only after the date for suggestions and objections expired. “A delegation of UTAA will call on the mamlatdar Natu to draw his attention over the talathi’s action. This needs a serious probe and action against the official,” Velip demanded at a press briefing.

Velip further demanded that the government should immediately accept the 12-point charter of demands made by UTAA as only at ST Commission and other powers can protect the rights of the scheduled tribe population.

Herald 24 November 2009, Panaji

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