Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mining discourse dominates Goa Revolution Day commemoration

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) organized a special program to mark commemoration of Goa Revolution Day that is known defiance of Portuguese colonial rule by late Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia in 1946. The program was held in quite evening in tribal hamlet of Bendordem, Balli in Quepem taluka in South Goa.

Program started off with welcome gesture by local member of Panchayat Bikhudas Velip. Few people spoke their views from heart at this meeting attended by many including local school children. Advocate John Fernandes was the first one speak after Sebastian Rodrigues had just finished introducing theme of the day and the historical significance of Goa Revolution Day.

Advocate John Fernandes was in his usual free flow with revolutionary fervor and spoke at quite a length setting the tone for the rest of the program. He observed that in current Goa there is freedom for three categories of people: mine owners, politicians and rulers. The common people are still oppressed. Hence there is a need for another revolution. Advocate Fernandes referred to the historical writings of Dr.T.B.Cunha that proves mining companies support to Portugal colonial rule in Goa. He said that it was mining companies that was responsible for the delay in getting Portuguese out of Goa. Mining companies are not concerned about common people. Biggest danger to Goa currently is from mining companies. In nearby Cavrem and Maina life of people is in constant danger. Its mountain – devapan dongor - has two mines operating on top of it – Sheikh Salim, and Magnum.

State government in collusion with mining companies has a plan to evict tribal people and take away their land for mining. There are also long term plans to make bypass road to transport ore to Betul for loading into vessels in Arabian Sea. Direct effect of every mine is felt to the distance of 8 kilometers in radius.

The need of the time currently is to support Cavrem villagers today and launch another revolution today against mining plunder of Goa. Don’t trust Digambar Kamat, the Chief Minister of Goa. He is a number one mining agent. He is responsible for Goa’s mining loot. Be alert and keep mining away.

Goa government is not implementing Forest Rights Act 2006 in Goa. This is so because mining leases are in tribal lands. This law is not implemented in Goa to favour mining companies.

Agricultural Tenancy Act implementation also suffers as survey under this law never took place in Goa. Cases in courts drag for 10-15 years. Landlords deliberately file cases on cultivators. Government not bothered about common people. It is concerned only about rich people.

SC/ST people are not yet liberated. Land acquisition for various projects are of common people.

Schedule Tribe Act is not implemented and tribal areas are not notified. There is urgent need to thoroughly examine if the fruits of liberation has reached the common people in Goa. There is an urgent need for strong revolutionary movement in Goa. Revolutionary way is the only way ahead.

Anthony D’silva from Ambelim, Salcete said that mining is making large number of people in Goa medically sick. It is causing urinary problems, kidney problems as Goa’s water dams are polluted due to mining silt and government simply supplies this water to the consumers. Its treatment creates more problems than purification. He said it is important to become aware in advance and take precautionary action against mining industry.

Abhijit Prabhudesai from Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott expressed dismay against mining industry. He pointed out that Sirgao village in Bicholim is destroyed due to mining. He called upon the villagers to unite and protect villages for future generations and not to let the mining companies to swallow up lands. He pointed out that currently world is facing food and water crisis and it is only going to aggravate in near future is mining industry continues its wrath. Government policy of distributing rice cheap at Rs.3/- per kilogram is meant to motivate farmers to give up cultivation.

Xavier Fernandes from Colamb, Sanguem in his fiery speech said that land is mother – matrubhoomi. Mining companies are defiling it continuously. He said that mining companies if they continue the way they are going about then they will finish the entire ecology. It is important to work physically and not to accept money offered by mining companies. People must unite to fight the State in Goa. Badruddin Mavany’s mine in Cavrem releases large quantity of lime inside the mining pits. This in turn pollutes ground water as visible from the Saptu Faterpekar’s home well in the close neighborhood. Pandits and Brahmis are hegemonising the state in Goa. He called upon youth to come forward and join the struggle. Mining has destroyed the agriculture in Goa that used to be the backbone of people’s economy. Mechanized mining is very dangerous. Temples constructed by mining companies are only to divert attention of people. He shard his experiences of Pissurlem visit in Sattari taluka. He observed that Dempos, Salgaonkars and Chowgules has finished of the village.

Lancia Rodrigues pointed out that mining makes people displaced from their land and hence it must be opposed. Money offered by mining companies are not so valuable and must be rejected by people.

Shanu Gaonkar opposed mines in Bendordem and shared about the recent struggled in his village. He thanked GOAMAP team for visiting remote village and offering support to the struggle. He said people in neighboring villages also needs awareness on mining issues. He said there is secret survey for the road through the village for mining company is currently going on and it must be opposed.

Bhikudas Velip, member of Panchayat, Balli panchayat shared his experience in fighting mining lease in his village. He observed that that is nexus between village talathi and the mining company. That is the reason he said the mining lease notice was displayed on village notice board after the last date to file objections. The corruption and mining onslaught villagers fought with two weeks non-stop agitation in the middle of the village. Chief Minister Digambar Kamat – who is mining minister for the past decade and half - was forced to retract on mining projects here.

Towards the end of the meeting resolution demanding cancellation of all mining leases in Goa and permanent ban on new mining leases was unanimously passed.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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