Saturday, December 12, 2009

‘No mining leases against people’s wishes’


Even as the villagers of Balli, Barcem, Morpilla and Fatorpa are gearing up for the December 12 meeting to oppose grant of mining leases, Director of Mines Arvind Lolyenkar has said there is no question of granting the leases if the people are opposed to the proposal.

When asked why the mines department had set in motion the process to elicit public opinion if the government is against granting the mining leases, Lolyenkar said the department only followed the principle of natural justice by giving the affected villagers the opportunity to file their objections to the mining proposal.

“Since the villagers have filed their objections to the proposals in the villages of Barcem, Balli, Fatorpa and Morpilla, the department would forward the same to the government for appropriate action”, he added.

Incidentally, the Director of Mines said the proposal received from the mining companies, Praful Kothari, IVA mines and Minerals and Mehta was not for mining lease, but for a provisional license to examine and find out the mineral potential in these villages.

“The companies had submitted the proposal to bore holes to ascertain mineral deposits in these villages. The process of granting mining leases comes in the second stage”, Lolyenkar said, adding that since the villagers are opposed to the mining activities, the department would submit a report to the government highlighting strong objections to the proposal.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding assurances given by the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat ruling out grant of mining leases in the villages of Barcem, Fatorpa, Morpilla and Balli, angry villagers will go ahead with the planned public meeting at Balli on Saturday evening.

The meeting was called by the Quepem MLA Babu Kavlekar to convey a message loud and clear to the government not to play with the sentiments of the people and scrap the mining proposals forthwith.

The proposal for mining leases has created a storm in these four villages, with the villagers fearing large scale destruction of forest area and agriculture, which will result in the displacement of the Scheduled Tribes people from their habitat.

Herald, 12 December 2009, Panaji

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