Monday, March 29, 2010

Mining Lure: Goa Forest department's hide-n-seek with Tigers

Against the claims made by the Forest department the villagers of Cavrem claims that there are Tigers in the Forest of Cavrem , Maina and the surrounding areas

The villagers of cavrem to that effect has written to the Prime Minister of India requesting the Prime Minister to protect these species. That after writing to the Prime Minister the officials of forest department who mostly seen in Quepem town moving with the mining agents have started investigating into the matter. Those who have written to the Prime Minister the forest officials calling them for inquiry.

There are so many sites named after Tiger on the mountain of Cavrem. On the foot of “Mita Agor” mountain there is a big Savor tree which is about 100 years old is called as “Vaga Savor”. Which has height of about two meters has sitting stand. The village elder Sonu Velip who is about 70 years of age, informed this correspondent, along with said Sonu and one Tulsidas velip of Cavrem visited the site informed that earlier at least twice in a week late in the evening tiger was seen sitting on this tree. People used to be afraid to move on the mountain. At the visit to the site on 24th march this correspondent noticed some fresh clutches on the said Savor trees. Pointing out to the clutches on the said Savor tree Tulshidas Velip who accompanied this correspondent informed that these are the clutches of Tiger. He further informed that recently the tiger might have climbed the Savor Tree.

That said Sonu Velip who has his cashew plantation at Pika Dongor informed that few days back he had heard the intimidation of Tiger near Paika Zor. When question can the intimidation be of leopard said sonu reply that the intimidation is certainly of Tiger as intimidation of leopard cannot be heard at far of distance.

An RFO who was initially working at Cavrem range with a condition not to disclose his name informed that during the last animal census they had noticed the pug mark of Tiger "but in order not to have any headache we have hide the same. "

One villager from Pirla informed that every year in the month of April and May Tigers make his presence in Pirla area.

On the other hand the forest guard who are rarely seen moving in the forest and who favors the mining companies operating in the area claims that there are not tigers in the Cavrem Maina Forest.

The villagers are now constantly writing to the Prime Minister to protect the tigers in the area so as not to repeat the incident of killing of Tiger like that of taken place at Keri Sattari.

John Fernandes

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mining inside Selaulim Dam catchment area map

Mining in and around Colamb, Sanguem is all pervasive scandal that is far away in the forest. Rulers in Panjim and Delhi are happy that they are far away from it. Now here is a map that pinpoints the detail vicissitudes of happenings in the catchment area of Goa's major water source that provides water to over 50% of its citizens. Tiger pug marks are cited too along with the mining leases here in western ghats. Have a detailed look at what is happening in Goa's hinterland:

View Colamb mining in a larger map

Exclusive road for mining through forest in Panchwadi, Goa

Goa Government has bended to the demands of mining industry and has gone ahead and demarcated 45 meters wide road through the thick forest in Panchawadi. This is disaster not only for the Forest but also for the Panchwadi village in very special way as their major water source - Maisal water dam stands threatened.

Here is a map of what Goa stands to loose if mining barons are let to have their way:

View Panchwadi mining roads resistence in a larger map

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Goa Police called at my residence today

Two policemen from Goa police today called at my residence at 11.50 am with regard to their inquiry on illegal mining in Goa. Policemen belonging to secret police - Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sought to know from me the details about illegal mining in Goa. I told them that all the mines in Goa are illegal as all of them function with inbuilt illegalities. There are one set of mines who function with care-a-dam attitude to legal permissions. Chief operators in this category are Anil Salgaonkar, Joaquim Alemao and Prasanna Ghotge. For these category of people their words and deeds is law. They believe in buying off law enforcement authorities and also Goa's MLAs in ruling and opposition, Ministers including the Chief minister, bureaucrats, police as well as scientists alike. Politicians and Political parties- particularly those sharing power and in opposition are funded by mining companies. They share a considered opinion that this will go on forever.

Then there are other set of mines who operate with permissions from various authorities and violate the terms and conditions and qualify themselves to be illegal. These permissions includes Environmental Clearanace from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Consents under Waater Act and Air Act from Goa State Pollution Control Board, Lease order under Lease deed, FC order under Forest Conservation Act, NOC under Wildlife Protection Act, Mining Plan submitted to Indian bureau of Mines, Environment Management Plan, and Dump Management Plan. Hence all the mines in Goa are illegal as they violate number of conditions. The total number of conditions are over 150.

There is a need for Goa Police to organize capacity building program in order to equip themselves in criminally charging the mining companies. So far Goa Police has the capacity to lavishly unleash terror on people protesting mining plunder of Goa.

DVD containing slide show "Environment and Mining" by Ramesh Gauns and Sebastian Rodrigues was handed over to the policemen and Rs.50/- was recovered from them as a cost of dvd that I had purchased for my work.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Monday, March 8, 2010

Health, Eduacation and Food Security: Learning from Venezualan Experience

Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP), Goa University

Cordially invites you to a Lecture


Tackling Social Exclusion in Health, Education and Food Security: Learning from Venezuelan Experience


Dr. Abhay Shukla

Coordinator, SATHI-CEHAT, Pune, member of the Advisory group for community action for the National Rural Health Mission and national joint convenor, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, India.

(Excerpts of the film on Venezuela ‘inside the revolution’ will also be screened before the lecture)

The session will be chaired by

Prof. AV Afonso

Coordinator, CSSEIP and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences,

Goa University

Date: Tuesday, 9th March, 2010

Time: 3 PM onwards

Venue: University Conference Hall, Administrative Building, Goa University, Goa.

All are Welcome!

RSVP: 6519378,

Demand to cancel Mining Public Hearings

People from Goa's mining belt today called upon the Chairman of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPSB) Dr. Simon de Souza in Panjim to demand the cancellation of declared Public hearings for mining leases in the light of directions to this effect from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi.

Delegation consisted of Rama Velip, Shamsunder Naik, Shankar Jog, Lancia Rodrigues, Dr. Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation, Nitin Tendulkar, Abhijit Prabhudesai of Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott and Sebastian Rodrigues.

The Chairman who was behaving adamant in this regard was accused of being indecisive, agreed to review the position of the Pollution Control Board within 24 hours. MoEF director Dr. P.L. Ahujarai was contacted over the phone on the occasion and she confirmed that it is the Chairman of Goa Pollution Control Board that has to act decisive and stop further Public Hearings of mining leases.

People from mining belt resolved to agitate in case Public Hearings are not canceled.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Regional Plan 2021 in Six months: Goa CM

Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on March 4 2010 declared to the delegation of Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) that the Goa Regional Plan 2021 will be declared within next six months. He was speaking to the delegation that consisted of number of people including Miguel Braganza, Durgadas Gaonkar GAKUVED President, Dr. Oscar Rebello, Dr. Claude Alvares, Dr. Sabina Martins and few other village representatives at his official residence in Altinho, Panjim. Chief town planner Mr. Morad Ahmad was also present at the meeting.

Earlier in the afternoon various groups from across the State of Goa assembled in front of the Town and Country Planning department, Panjim and called on Chief Town Planner Mr. Morad Ahmad. Delegation sought to know as to why the Regional Plan 2021 is not declared so far and when it is going to be declared. Since the delegates did not receive satisfactory answers a group of around 200 people marched to the residence of Chief Minister with prior intimation to him. Chief minister however escaped from through the car from his official residence. Protesters got furious at the Chief Minister and squatted on the road in front of the Chief Minister's residence. Chief Minister informed over the phone that he is Margao and would come to Panjim only next day to meet the people, that too on appointment.

Furious crowd declared that they will sleep for the entire night outside the main gate of the Chief Minister's banglow till Chief Minister comes and hears them out. Chief Minister Digambar Kamat finally relented and showed up at his official residence and met up with the delegation waiting to see him and also accepted the demands of declaring the deadline of Regional Plan 2021 as well as freezing permissions for new development projects.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Same story: Russians put on loud music, police stops

At 11.10 pm Russian tourists residing opposite my my house on rent put on loud techno music - Goa Trance, my family was unable to sleep. Police were informed at Siolim police station. At 00.10 am police came and stopped the party. I received a call from the police at 00.15 am that loud music party has been stopped with request to inform them in case tourists resume the music back again.

It is becoming a test of patience to my family.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Accidental Activist - So Do You Have it In You?

By Venita Coelho

It was a room full of accidental activists. They had come from across
Goa. From the hills to the coastlines , they were all there. And they
were there because they had seen for themselves the havoc that the
governments policy of dragging its feet on the Regional Plan was causing
in their villages. The reports were shocking. Villagers reported virgin
cashew plantations and forests being purchased for as little as Rs 1000
per sq metre, and being razed for settlement and mining activities.
Khazan lands were becoming a residential colony with marina attached.
Ilegal bore wells were devastating the supply of water in Nagao, Verna,
Loutolim, Quellossim and Cortalim. Every single person was there because
they were personally concerned that disaster awaited around the corner
if something was not done.

Being accidental activists, they were all nervous as well - ?What about
the police? Will they arrest us?? ?What if things get out of
control??Then the frustration spoke up ?We will protest! We are law
abiding citizens who have tried every avenue open to us. We?ve done the
RTI, the letters of protest, the umpteen follow up visits to government
offices ? and absolutely nothing has come of it.? The few veterans who
were there to provide advice smiled tiredly. ?Nothing comes of it.
Nothing comes until you go to court. And even then it takes forever.?
Young blood spoke up ?These are our government servants! They report to
us. They are meant to have our best interests at heart. We have every
right to go to their office and ask them what they are doing with our

The decision was made. The only thing that the government seems to
listen to is large numbers of very angry people. Here were a large
enough number. And they were very angry. The government had made high
sounding promises ? this was the Regional Plan that would protect Eco
Zones, that would take the villagers wishes into consideration, that
would project a development that would save and not destroy. And here we
were, more than a year later, with no signs of the Regional Plan being
finalized. In the meantime, devastation in the name of development was
rampant all over the state. All these accidental activists were willing
to put their anger on the line. Come March 4th they would gather and
protest at the Town and Country Planning Office in Panjim.

March 4th is just a few days away. Now is the time for you too to decide
if you have the makings of an accidental activist in you. Look around
you at your own village? Do you like what you see? Are you happy with
the concrete structures sprouting everywhere? With the garbage strewn
wherever you look? With the water shortages? With the trees being cut?
With the mining trucks that thunder through your village choking you
with dust? All this is the result of either lack of planning, or of the
subversion of all planning to big business interests. You can?t get
permission for the two rooms you want to add to your house, but the big
construction companies get permission for dozens of luxury villas slap
in the middle of eco sensitive zones. You get a notice from the
Panchayat when you cut a single tree, but the czars of the mining
industry level entire forests and get away with it. The Regional Plan
was meant to give you and your village a chance to plan your future the
way you wanted it to be. Not leave the planning to function at the
whims of the government and the money bags who control it. Until the
Regional Plan is finalized, the devastation of Goa by vested interests
will continue. You can see it in the village you live. The only way to
stop it is to use the language that this government understands ? a show
of strength and numbers. To protest so loud and so strong that they are
forced to give us the Regional Plan they promised. Not this endless delay.

On March 4th ordinary citizens who have been made accidental activists,
village action groups, and the GBA, are gathering at the TCP office in
Panjim at 3:30 to stage a peaceful protest. We will be demanding that
the Regional Plan be finalized immediately, and all interim permissions
for projects be frozen, and loopholes like Amendment 16 and 16A be
closed immediately. Join us. Raise your voice. Stake your claim on the
future of your own village.

Herald, 2 March 2010 Panaji

Private forest cover ‘shrinks’ by 2018 ha


The Sawant and the Karapurkar committees appointed by the State Government identified about 6,712.2 hectares as private forests. But the forest department contents that the private forest cover is much less than identified by the two committees.
As per the forest department report submitted to the High Court in December 2009, private forest cover identified by two committees has come down to 4,242.3 hectares – the difference is about 2018.07 hectares.
Interestingly, the forest department had been directed by the High Court to actually demarcate the private forests on the map that were identified by the two committees. The direction is issued following a petition for issuing a writ filed by Goa Foundation.
The stand of the forest department is that when demarcation was initiated, no forests existed on the survey numbers that were earmarked as private forests by two committees.
However, Goa Foundation which has been pursuing the matter has strongly objected to the report of the forest department showing less forest area than identified by the two committees.
The petition challenging the report filed by forest department is pending before the High Court.
Adv Norma Alvares, who represented Goa Foundation pointed out that the forest department was only entrusted with the duty to demarcate or plot private forests where survey numbers had partial forests that were identified by two committees.
However, what has been done is even in survey numbers that were identified as having total forest cover has been now identified as non-forest area.
She further pointed out that the apex court in its order in May, 2001, had stated that no action should be taken contrary to the final report of Sawant committee.
When the order of the Supreme Court has not been vacated – how could the forest department re-do and show reduced forest cover, she questioned.
The Goa Foundation had approached the apex court when Karapurkar committee appointed in 2000 to identify balance private forests, started re-identifying private forest areas that were already covered by Sawant committee.
The Sawant committee was appointed in 1997. It submitted its report in 1999 identifying about 46.89 sq kms of private forests. The Karapur Committee which was appointed in 2000 has identified about 20.18 sq km of private forests.
However, both committees were not able to complete the exercise fully. But, what is intriguing is how areas identified by two expert committees have turned into non-forest areas in the span of few years. In a rare case, forest department has found increase in the forest cover in few of the survey numbers. (See box)
New committees: The State government has now notified two new committees to identify private forests in North and South Goa that have not been covered by the Sawant and the Karapur Committees.
They will have to individually locate the identified private forests on ground, survey them, verify and confirm their forest nature and extend (area in hectares), plot them on map and incorporate them in the plan of the respective survey numbers. Also, they have to demarcate the private forests from the non-forests on the map.
Criteria adopted for identifying private forests are as follow.
A 75 per cent of its composition should be forestry species.
Area should be contiguous to government forests and if in isolation minimum area should be five hectares.
Thirdly, the canopy density should not be less than 0.4.

Herald, 2 March 2010 Panaji

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back to Square One

By Venita Coelho

Well, here we are back to square one. Fighting one more time to get a
Regional Plan that we are happy with. What a long journey it has been ?
all to end up in the same place all over again. Three years ago Goa
spilled out onto the roads to protest a Regional Plan that was
disastrous. So vociferous were the protests and so many were the
protestors that the Government actually cancelled the RP2012 and
promised that it would include the peoples sentiments in the next plan.
While the next plan ended up making no one entirely happy, there was a
window for villages respond to the plans and to fill in a questionnaire
asking for the development they wished for their own villages. It was
months of hard work for both the GBA and various villages. I got
laryngitis twice after explaining day after day just exactly how to
tackle the RP2012. GBA members ended up exhausted and mentally drained.
With no official training from the government, village regional
committees and concerned citizens struggled with the task set them.
Deadlines were extended time and again, but finally it was done. We
heaved a sigh of relief - too early it now turns out.

All that hard work has gone into limbo along with the Regional Plan.
There are no assurances as to when the Regional Plan will be finalized.
Neither do we know what exactly is going to be finalized in it. Will the
village plans made by the villagers hold importance or be swept aside by
the governments plans? Will what we have asked for clearly as villages
be respected? What kind of development will finally be foisted on us?
There are no answers ? and above all ? there is no Regional Plan. Like
the Holy Grail, it remains lost in the mists of government procedures.
And in the meantime, the doors have been flung open. While we wait
eternally for the RP to be finalized, permissions are being handed out
hand over fist. Amendment 16 an 16A is a nice little loop hole through
which any project can be shoved once it is branded 'government project'.
When the Pilerne Action Committee asked for details of building NOC's
handed out while we wait for the RP to finalized, the terrifying
official reply was that they were 'numerous' and details could not be
given without 'diverting the staff from day to day work'. You can
imagine the volumes of NOC's that have been handed out! While we good
citizens patiently wait for the Government to do the right thing, the
government itself is busy subverting it's own laws by using this window
to pass 'neumerous' projects ? which it refuses to inform us about.

We have been taken for a royal ride. Like children being diverted with a
lollipop we were handed the RP2021 with so called 'peoples
participation'. That participation was never quantified, nor was it made
clear whether it would be respected or included in the final plan. And,
having taken the bait, while we waited around for the RP to be
finalized, it was business as usual behind the scenes. There is no
gentler way to put it ? we have been made absolute fools of. What are
these 'neumerous' projects? What rules do they follow? Do they respect
the areas marked out in the RP2021? Under what guidelines are they being
passed? The government can't inform us ? it would take 'diverting the
staff from day to day work' to give us these answers.

In this context it comes as a relief that the GBA has decided to hand
out an ultimatum, saying it will take to the streets from March 4th if
this passing of projects is not stopped, and a date not set for the RP
to be finalized. We have done our best to co-operate with the
government. We have done our best to be good law abiding citizens and
work within the parameters the government gave us. But enough is enough.
When the government breaks it's own laws, when it creates convenient
loop holes, and when it chooses to keep citizens in the dark about it's
activities ? then that government has lost it's right to civil
obedience. It's time to take to the streets again. That seems to be the
only language this government understands. We have fought this fight
before and we will do it again. Let the government beware! This time we
are wiser. You can't fool all of the people all of the time Mr. Kamat.

Herald, Goa - February 23, 2010

Goodness interred with (tiger) bones

The efforts to save Goa must
supplement with viable economic
alternatives in the mining
belt, says Dr OSCAR REBELLO

Rajendra Kerkar is simply a phenomenon of simplicity. Meet
him once and he stays with you forever. Firm in his
convictions; High on ideals; and passionate about the
environment this is Mr Courage himself.

I had the opportunity of interacting with him in Oman at the
Global Goan Convention. His electric talk on Goa's Mhadei
basin and the eco hot spots he so relentlessly strives to
preserve enthralled the entire audience and had us spell bound.

"Goa, at its very inception, had no Ram, Allah,
Christ as her Gods -- those came much later, he
says. Peruse her age old folk songs, her folklore
and you'll learn that all these songs rise in
prayer,in honour of Mother earth and her bounty.
Goa's true religion is her environment," he claimed.

"To the extent," he asserted in a lighter vein,tongue firmly
in cheek "even in present times our three recent Chief
Ministers Parrikar, Rane and Kamat have revolved around,
worshipped and deified a natural fruit -- Monseratte -- a
mango." Touche.

Generations of Goans will have to be eternally grateful to
guys like Rajendra, Ramesh Gauns, Claude, Seby, Nandkumar
Kamat and a host of other unsung heroes, who are struggling
to protect our rivers, our forests and our wild life.

And then, the dirty cowards try to shoot the messenger. The
conservator of forests, Mr Shashi Kumar tries to put Kerkar
in the dock, accusing him to be an abettor in the tiger
poaching case, only because he spilled the beans on the

Who was Rajendra Kerkar's secret source, then? Who was deep
throat? Who was the leaking sieve?

Let's give Mr Shashi Kumar the answer -- "We,the
people of Goa, were his sources." He did it for all
of us and the unborn kids of this land. Does that
suit you? Now, go ahead you know your answer. Come,
get all of us.

On the other side of this divide are our mining lobby, of
course, smacking their lips and lazily yawning, eyes alert,
waiting for the next kill in case Kerkar falls.

Blessed by the Patron Saint of Mines, from Margao, illegal
miners will have a field day ravaging the earth,
disemboweling it mercilessly in our deep jungles if not for
the valiant efforts of Kerkar, Claude & Co.

The commonest argument you get, from the pro-mining lobby
when you bump into them at cocktail parties, is that all
environmentalists are a bunch of frauds only engaging in
extortion of a perfectly legal business which is providing
employment to thousands and increasing taxes for the state.

Green is mean -- they say. So to play Devil's Advocate, let
us buy our beatific mining lobby / government's argument that
Greens are impediments to the state's giant economic march or
whatever. Let us assume all greens are evil.

How does all that change the visible and monumental carnage
happening on Goa's eastern belt? It is a fact that mining
takes place in reserved forests. It is a fact that people in
mine affected areas suffer from severe respiratory ailments.

It is a fact that rivers Kushavati, Valvanti are
choked with silt and refuse to breathe. It is a
fact that traditional farming is obliterated as a
profession in these areas. It is a fact that mines
may pay off for private profits but it is a heavy
price that the public has to endure.

These are facts that are indisputable and we need solutions.
The solutions to these problems must come from the mining
lobby itself who are fortunate to have made obscene profits
at Goa's cost. True, many have donated handsomely to charity
and to social causes: to temples and educational outfits but
those times have changed.

With Gen Next looking to head family-run mining businesses,
we need this generation to focus on the environment. All
corporate social responsibility efforts must be targeted to
cleaning the crap your businesses are leaving behind.

Forget the Gods and the art galleries for now, we need a
Herculean, titanic struggle to clean our rivers, reforest
denuded areas; invest in farming/horticulture and replenish
the earth. These efforts must be visible, palpable and
sustainable and illegal miners must be sent packing pronto
and with God speed. We will need to look for viable economic
alternatives in the mining ravaged belt.

So, the story of Kerkar then, must be told,
repeated, and reaffirmed ad nauseum, in schools and
colleges; at festivals and cocktail parties. The
story of one man's sterling courage and
conviction,who put his all on the line, for us
Goans and asked nothing in return.

Circulated on Goanet on 28 February 2010

Indian Prime Minister petitioned on tiger presence in Colamb and Cawrem

The villagers of Colomba of Sanguem taluka and villager of Cavrem of Quepem taluka have filed a petition before the Prime minister of India Shri Monamohan Singh stating therein that there are tiger presence in the area.

The villagers of Colomba in their petition copy of which forwarded to the Chief Conservator of Forest have stated that there are presence of Tiger in Colomb particularly at Patea Fal, Galemol and Gulcond Dongor and other surrounding areas. The petition that the officials of Forest department are seen doing nothing to protect these species.

While the Petition of the villagers of Cavrem states that there is presence of Tiger/Tigress in Cavrem/Kirlagali/Keri and the surrounding areas. The forest department who are meant to protect the tigers and other species which are there in the forest are in collusion of mining companies all way out to destroy the tigers and other forest species from Cavrem/Kirlagali/Keri and the surrounding area.

John Fernandes