Sunday, February 21, 2010

Goa farmers protest, stage one day fast in Quepem

Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott (GXE) held a day long fast on 21 February 2010 at the Municipal garden, Quepem to protest against the relentless atrocities being committed by the State against the farmers, poorer sections of the society and the future generations. GXE aims to protect and conserve agricultural lands, water resources and forests of Goa, which belong not to us but to our children, from the greed and ignorance of the few.

The event was attended by villagers from 22 villages and towns from Quepem, Sanguem and Salcete talukas. The day long deliberations were focused on local and national consequences of various State initiatives being forced upon unwilling citizens, and the alternatives available with the citizens to force the State to review and revise its anti-development policies, so that the long overdue corrections are immediately adopted. In particular, the villagers expressed anger and frustration at the arbitrary acquisitions of paddy fields, especially tenanted lands, destruction of natural water resources, complete failure of the State to honour its promise to provide 90% of the water from Selaulim Dam for irrigation, increasing illegal mining and the failure of the State to respect The National Policy for Farmers 2007 and The National Forest Policy.

Villagers from Morpilla, Colomba, Rivona and Maina demanded that no new mining leases or renewals be allowed anywhere in the State, since the Chief Minister seems to have forgotten his promise to rid us of illegal mining. Satellite images were displayed to reveal how easy it is for even a schoolboy to locate illegal mining in the State. All the villagers were unanimous in condemning the forest and police departments for openly defending mining in forest lands, and for attacking the concerned citizens who are trying to protect the forests. Villagers affected by a spate of new 4-lane roads in the hinterland, which are being promoted by the State for the exclusive use of mining traffic, pointed out that these roads would destroy a number of pristine villages, forests and water bodies which are not yet affected by mining.

All the villagers were unanimous that the complete failure of the Selaulim Irrigation Project, the apathy shown by the State towards farmers and the failure of beneficial legislations such as the Tenancy Act and the Command Area Development Act are responsible for the dismal state of affairs in the State. Villagers from Paroda, Assolda, Ambaulim, Deao, Chinchinim and St. Jose De Areal shared their experiences and hopes with regards agricultural failure and revival. The proximity between the health of the agricultural sector, the health of the environment, removal of social inequities and the survival of future generations was studied.

The meeting concluded with all expressing renewed commitment towards facing the social and environmental challenges lying ahead. It was resolved that in view of the refusal of the State to heed to reason, GXE shall redouble its efforts and increase the pressure on the State to relent, accept the reality and to embrace the changes that are essential for the survival of Goa and Goans.

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