Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bishop: Stop plunder of natural resources

Gomantak Times, December 30, 2009, Panaji

By staff reporter

Panjim: Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao yesterday dealt body blow to those responsible for what he called “plundering of natural resources”, but let MLAs and cabinet ministers off with a light rap on the knuckles.

Speaking at the annual Christmas gathering held at the Archbishop’s Palace, Rev Ferrao said, “In our day, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices amongst peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature, by plundering of natural resources.”

The speech of the Archbishop, widely regarded as a pointer to the ills that plague the State, was listened to with rapt attention by Governor SS Sidhu, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, Leaader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar, PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, Power Minister Aleixo Sequira, Revenue Minister Jose Philip, Water Resources Minister Felipe Neri Rodrigues, Urban Development Minister Joaqium Alemao, Home Minister Ravi Naik, Deputy Chairman of State Planning Board Dr. Wilfred de Souza, industrialist Srinivas Dempo, judges, bureaucrats and members of the community.

The Archbishop went straight to the heart of the matter and in less than a minute it was clear that his focus this year was on the environment, specifically the uncontrolled mining of iron ore.

Presently, over 300 applications for renewal of existing mining leases or fresh ones are pending before the Mining Department. Besides, the government has proved to be powerless in curbing illegal mining.

As we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. Unfortunately, this reciprocity was not always observed,” he read from a printed version, which is usually the norm on this occasion.

“It (creation) has indeed been continuously marred by neglect – if not downright misuse – of the natural goods that God has given humankind,” he emphasized.

This year, political leaders were spared the embarrassment of being blamed for environmental degradation with Archbishop acknowledging that they are seized with the problem, but emphasized that more needs to be done.

We see our legislators and politicians sometimes giving an ear to the aspirations of the people, as platforms are offered to make their voices heard. We also see them paying attention to the ecological balance and sustainable development which this land is so much in need of….but we know that this is not enough,” he said.

Speaking out his mind and virtually setting the agenda for the New Year, the Archbishop listed some of the environmental problems facing the State when he said that the dwindling agricultural land, desertification of farming space, erosion of our beaches are some of the ecological problems that merits attention.

While many paint a picture of doom, the Archbishop saw a glimmer of hope. Referring to the recent environment summit at Copenhagen, he said it was a “significant international expression”

“Thankfully there is also a common political will to take steps to slow down such degradation,” he added.

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