Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Imprisoning Forest in Goa

I was in Colamb, Sanguem today and met up with Avelino Antao, a farmer in a Forest village for past decades in his forested surroundings. As we began talking about mining suddenly two officers of Goa Forest department crossed the nearby road. Avelino then started a conversation on state of forest in his village with particular reference to role of forest officers of Goa State. He narrated as to how natural forest in Colamb is being cut down by Goa Forest department and monoculture species are being planted. He believed that Forest department was acting foolish in this way. Avelino did not approve of this trend by the Forest department. Actually Forest department has been imprisoning natural forest in Colamb and elsewhere in Goa. This needs to be reversed and new trend must be started, a trend of letting natural forest to Grow.

In Colamb in the past few months 14,000 trees have been chopped down with the permission from Forest department. This is the case of Palondikar mine which is operating in full swing without Environmental Clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). It is matter of serious concern that Goa Forest department has become darling of miners. Several thousand hectares of land has been parceled to mining companies all over Goa to mining companies. Regional Plan 2010 has details on this. Goa government has even been arguing that there is no need for buffer zone for sanctuaries. It appointed a high powered committee headed by senior bureaucrat Rajiv Yadhuvanshi which suggested zero kilometers as buffer zone for wildlife sanctuaries in Goa. This cleared way for miners in Goa to start digging and ripping the earth apart. Central government thankfully has rejected this nasty proposal of Goa government that meant total surrender to the mining industry. Earlier Goa Chief Conservator of Forest Shashi Kumar went to Delhi some months back and argued at the Wildlife board of India that permissions be granted for mining projects within buffer zone of the sanctuary. Shashi Kumar looks as if he is a public advocate of mining industry that is bent upon destroying Goa's forests. and of course it is well know fact that Forest department is well known collaborator of wiping out of any traces of tigers in Goa and persecute those who stand in defense of ecology like Rajendra Kerker. Now even inspite of villagers of Cavrem declaring that there exists tigers in Quepem western forests, Forests department is denying the reports. The intentions of Goa's forest department can be described as 'vicious' at best. It is a front ranking ally of the nefarious mining industry in Goa.

It is well known fact as to what are the intentions of Forest department of Goa is: to aggressive imprison Goa's forest through monoculture and mining. There is a need for massive overhauling in the constitution of Forest department in Goa. Currently forest department in Goa is an agency of exploitation par excellence. We have to join hands to change this situation with vigilance and organised action.

Sebastian Rodrigues

No comments: