Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bicholim residents stop mining transport


About 200 people from Bicholim without considering party lines and led by the Bicholim MLA, Rajesh Patnekar today carried out rasta roko on the Bicholim bridge in protest against the mining trucks plying through the city.

It may be recalled that since last four years, there has been constant agitations in the taluka in protest against the mining transportation.

Besides trucks from Sirsaim, trucks proceeding from Maharastra, which enter the State, use the roads in Bicholim.

The agitations have been sparked off mostly due to accidents, pollution, overloading of mining trucks and police authorities’ incompetence in keeping a check over mining. The agitations only led the traffic to stop for some time, which would resume after about two to three days.

In view of this the Bicholim MLA had told that the problem should be solved once for all and a meeting to this effect was called last week.

About 100 people attended the meeting and expressed their displeasure over the mining traffic in the city. On Tuesday the MLA had given a memorandum to the deputy collector in connection with the same and had given five days ultimatum. As the authorities failed to take appropriate steps a bandh of traffic was today called.

Today at about 8.30 am agitators led by the MLA gathered near the Bicholim bridge the mob got furious after seeing a mining truck and after stopping the truck assaulted the driver who ran for life. Later, the truck was taken on the bridge and the entire traffic was halted. The mob palted stones on the truck and punctured all the four tyres after taking it on the bridge.

After receiving the information the Bicholim PI, Harish Madkaikar went to the site and tried to pacify the mob who demanded to call the authority and totally stop the mining trucks plying in the area. As the traffic was halted on the main Bicholim bridge some of the vehicles were diverted from Kudchirem road towards Sanquelim. But, due to narrow road there was traffic jam reported in the Kudchirem area.

At about 10.30 the Deputy collector, Kenawdekar went to the site and told that the issue could be solved with discussion. On this the mob became furious and told that since last one year there had been such discussions going on but there are no outcomes and so they were forced to come on road. They sought to know as to why there was no response for five days when the memorandum was submitted.

The agitators demanded that they would call off only if the deputy collector gives in writing that the mining trucks would not be allowed to ply from the city. The deputy collector told that he did not have such authority and so the mob asked to call the collector for discussion.

They also threatened of Bicholim bandh if their demands are not fulfilled or if they are arrested.

The tension went high once again when they were told that the collector is busy and won't be able to come to Bicholim. Later the president of the MGP, Pandurang Raut showed the deputy collector an earlier order from the collector stating that the inter-state ore transport would not be allowed in the state. Based on the letter the deputy collector issued an order asking all the mining trucks to stop plying from Bicholim and the agitation was called off at about 1.30 pm.

The traffic was yet to be normalised till the evening as it took much time to remove the punctured truck from the bridge. An assault case was also registered against the Bicholim councillor, Kamlakar Teli by one Sajay Khandeparkar and the Bicholim truck association.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the truck owners and the drivers meeting was held in the evening and they are likely to submit memorandum to the deputy collector on Friday.

Samir Umarye

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