Police-Villagers out on the streets
Situation tense, road blocked
According to the reports just coming in Vedanta's have deployed goons to cut the fragile mangrove forest on the Zuari river banks to put up the loading point for its company Sesa Goa. Villagers of Panchwadi has challenged the goons on site and forced them to stop deforestation and flee from the site.
Situation has remained tense in the area and police as well as villagers are out on the streets. Villagers are demanding that the mining company's goons responsible for forcible cutting down of mangrove forest be arrested with immediate. Police are yet to effect any arrests of the mining goons so far. Main road stands blocked.
Sesa Goa is tryi9ng to set up loading points for the iron ore for the purpose of loading of ore into barges to ship towards Marmagoa Port to export. Panchwadi Bachao Samiti had already filed its objection to this proposal more than a month ago. Here is a copy of the letter:
PANCHAWADI BACHAO SAMITI
c/o Christev D'Costa (Ex-Sarpanch),
Ponda Taluka, Goa
Date: 7th June 2010
The Member Secretary,
Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority,
Opp. Saligao Seminary, P.O. Saligao,
SUB: Objection to Proposed Riverside Terminal for “stocking/loading” of mineral ore at Panchwadi village, Ponda Taluka by M/S. Sesa Goa Ltd. – Panchwadi Bunder Project (GCZMA/N/193)
REF: (1) Our letter to you dated 2nd March 2010
This is further to our above referred letter, to which we are yet to receive a reply.
We are in possession of documents related to the subject project, which have been collected from your office by Shri Abhijit Prabhudesai under the RTI Act, 2005. Based on these documents and the CRZ Notification, 1991 (as amended till date), the following facts are brought to your attention:
- That the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority gave clearance to the said project vide letter ref. no. GCZMA/N/193/301 dated 09/01/2003, more than 7 years ago.
2. That section 3., sub-section (2), (ia) of the CRZ Notification, 1991 (as amended till date) states as follows – “The clearance granted shall be valid for a period of 5 years for the commencement of the construction or operation.”
3. That the third paragraph of section 2., sub-section III, (c) of the EIA Notification, 1994 (as amended till date) states as follows – “The clearance granted shall be valid for a period of 5 years for the commencement of the construction or operation of the project.”
4. That no construction or mobilization has commenced for the said project till date.
5. That as per page no. C/36 of the subject file, Shri A. G. Untawale has committed gross and blatant misuse of his powers by falsifying the records of his observations made during the site visit to the Proposed Riverside Terminal, conducted on 11th and 12th October 2002. The entire 35 Has. area of the said site is covered with fully grown mangroves of many diverse species, some of which are unique to this region and not found in other parts of Goa, making this area one of the best and most diverse mangrove forests along the Zuari River. However, Mr. Untawale’s report attempts to misguide the State into believing that the mangroves at the site are inconsequential and dispensible. It is further observed that the document has the names of both Dr. Claude Alvares and Mr. A. G. Untawale, yet only Mr. Untawale has signed on it. It is understood from Dr. Claude Alvares that he refused to sign the Site Report prepared by Mr. Untawale for the same reason.
From paragraphs 1 to 4 above it is abundantly clear that the clearance issued by your office for the subject project is no longer valid.
In view of the above, we request you as follows:
- Kindly respond to our above referred letter at the earliest. In particular, please confirm that the clearance given to the said project vide letter ref. no. GCZMA/N/193/301 dated 09/01/2003, more than 7 years ago, is no longer valid.
- Immediately take necessary steps to identify all the mangroves along the River Zuari, with prior intimation to us.
- Any application for CRZ clearances in the village of Panchwadi to be copied to us for our information before being processed.