Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mopa resistence to land acqusition for proposed Mopa Airport

On August 30, 2010 Mr M.K Vasta land acquisition officer along with an assistant came to mopa airport area for a hearing regarding issuing of section 9 and 10, at Vasadev temple at Tulaskar wadi. Lot of villagers from Cansarvonem, Tulaskar wadi, Dhangar wadi who were served notice were present for the meeting.

Mr Vasta asked the people regarding compensation, valuation of trees etc, the people asked him that in notification 2221 RD 2008 - 5A it is mentioned that people should not object land acquisition so how are we to ask and what to ask we do not know.

Janardhan Tulaskar, Dinkar Tulaskar, Digamber Tulaskar questioned Mr Vasta on benefits of the airport project which he could not answer, also when they asked him of destruction of forest, agriculture and water , he replied that environment matters the court will handle and other things he doesnt know and he obeys orders of his superiors. He also mentioned that land will be acquired and handed to the government and later the steering commitee will decide what to do. What does this mean ?

Most of the people asked for time to reply.

The people have approached the High Court and the Attorney General has assured the Court that the land acquisition will be stopped till the court decision, but here people were so annoyed that the government is bent on acquiring their land without obeying the high court, issuing of section 9 and 10 is illegal as the land acquisition process is in the court.

As per the villagers the govt will only acquire their land and drive them out of their motherland. No one can build an airport here as the Mopa plateau has steep slopes on all sides and to level this slopes is just not humanly possible. “There will be no airport here but this process is just to acquire our beautiful land and drive us out of here, then they may sell the land to big land sharks as construction of airport is not possible and Goa being small can suffice with one airport” villagers observed.

Public Interest: Scrap exclusive mining roads in Panchwadi

On 30th August 2010 Panchwadi villagers along with Fr Rodrigues met the Minister of Environment Mr Alexio Sequeira at his Raia residence at 9.30 am in the morning regarding construction of mining road through their village.

The villagers enlightened the minister of the ill effects and other problems of dust pollution, heavy traffic in their small village etc. The minister gave them a patient hearing and showed support and offered to help the villagers by stopping the construction of the mining road meant for sesa goa a mining company, but however did not give a concrete promise that the road will be scrapped.

The villagers were happy with the meeting as the minister understood their problem and offered whatever help he can.

This acquisition of 40 hectares of mangrove forest will destroy the ecosensitive area, mangrove are to be protected but with this acquisition everything will be destroyed.
Sesa Goa had purchased 30 hectares of mangrove forest for mining road and dumping of ore, but since this area was tenented they could not construct the road, but now they want the Goa Govt to buy their 30 hectares and another 10 hectares from other owners to construct mining road and loading and unloading of iron ore an the banks of river zuari.

The Sawant and Karapurkar commitee and TERI report conforms the existance of mangrove forest in this area. If road is constructed the Moisal dam which supplies water to the whole village and surrounding areas will get polluted and the whole village will be affected.

Goa Government is acquiring 40 hectares to construct road for public purpose is an eye wash as only Sesa Goa will be using this road, the Government is wrong by claiming the project as public purpose.more than 1500 schedule tribe and 100 schedule caste population will get badly affected with this mining road of Sesa Goa.

It is in public interest that this exclusive road for mining be scrapped.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Q&A: Ravi Rebbapragada, forest rights activist


'Proposal for 26% share in profits may help'

Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi August 29, 2010, 0:15 IST

Ravi Rebbapragada, a forest rights activist, tells Sreelatha Menon the Vedanta logic should be applied to all areas where there is a conflict over land acquisition.

Is the environment ministry’s rejection of Vedanta’s application for bauxite mining in Niyamagiri a victory for the forest dwellers?

I am thrilled, but I would call it a real victory only when the approach of the NC Saxena committee, which upheld the right of forest dwellers to forests, according to the Forest Rights Act (FRA), is applied to all projects where FRA is being violated.

But even this is being projected as a victory of Rahul Gandhi rather than the rule of law. Does this mean FRA will be implemented only where Rahul Gandhi agrees to take up people’s cause?

It is true that our society is still in a rather feudal frame. It is more like an oligarchy rather than a democracy. When Rahul Gandhi first visited Lanjigarh, I asked him if he was moved by the tribal issue in Orissa because it was an opposition-ruled state and insensitive to the tribal issue in Andhra Pradesh as it was ruled by the Congress. I asked him to come to Andhra Pradesh to see the plight of the tribes being displaced by the Polavaram dam. It is our demand that he visit all conflict areas, including Polavaram. We have the largest tribal population in the world. He can’t ignore the injustice in Andhra where tribes, who form 90 per cent of the people, are being displaced in 300 villages that will be submerged by the dam.

So, you are admitting that FRA as well as the Samata ruling by the Supreme Court in response to your petition don’t work. Only individuals, or rather one individual, do?

Apart from law, there is social justice and common sense. These are missing. In spite of the law, Vedanta and the state government could do so much that was illegal. The Andhra Pradesh government has given affidavits in the Supreme Court in the Polavaram case saying the permission from the gram sabhas has been taken. It is a lie. Gram sabhas have not even been set up.

Would you still consider Vedanta a new beginning on the part of the Centre?

The government seems to be thinking that the development of tribes may remove Naxalism. It is mistaken.

Won’t tribal development remove Naxalism?

What do tribes want? They want peace. Naxalism is a political ideology while development is a need of the people and the duty of the government. The government has to deal with Naxalism in a political way, by demonstrating that democracy works. I was asked to leave tribal areas by Naxalites in 1997, soon after the Supreme Court gave the Samata judgement, which said tribal land could not be transfered. I asked them what was my fault. They said I was working with the system and I believed in the Constitution. This judgment would spread the feeling that the system was working. And if the system works, what will the ‘dadas’ do? That was their problem. The tibes may ask them that if they can go to the court, where is the need for violence?

How have states managed to transfer tribal land in spite of the Samata ruling?

In Andhra Pradesh, the government has given mining leases to the AP Mineral Development Corporation. In Orissa, the lease is with the Orissa Mining Corporation. They do this in every state. Samata ruling said states can set up projects but a private party can’t. So, the state, as a lease-holder, entered into an agreement with Anrak and Jindal South West Ltd in Andhra for bauxite mining, and Vedanta entered into an agreement with the Orissa Mining Corporation, and so on. In the Andhra bauxite project, our MP Kishore Chandra Deo has been arguing against it on our behalf. We have pointed out how the Guden Maripakala, the hills on which the mining is to be done, is a proposed biosphere reserve housing rare animal species like mouse deer and golden gecko and bisons.

Is there something wrong with FRA that the NC Saxena committee had to come to its rescue?

It is the way the states have understood and implemented it. They have looked at it as a patta-distribution exercise. Under FRA, forest rights committees have to be set up at the gram sabha level. In Andhra Pradesh, they have been set up at the panchayat level. They can have a maximum of 15 members, while the panchayats have over 50 gram sabhas. So, how can these be representative?

In Orissa, they have village-level forest rights committees. What went wrong with the gram sabhas in the Posco steel project? You were part of the panel set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to advise on the violations of law there.

When it comes to Posco and Polavaram, the states have chosen not to implement FRA as they want land. The law is an obstacle. In bauxite areas in Andhra Pradesh, forest rights committees have not been set up even at the panchayat level. On Posco, the Orissa government claims there are no eligible people, meaning other traditional forest dwellers who are covered by FRA. Our committee found that both other traditional forest dwellers and forest land existed and the former cultivated paan leaves on forest land. Besides, we found that the government had taken forest clearance after the gram sabha’s consent in neighbouring villages for a project of IndianOil. But when it came to Posco, they found these people ineligible. What does that mean?

Is clearance possible now in Posco?

We said FRA is incomplete. If they complete FRA, they may get a clearance.

What if gram sabhas say no? They are not going to say yes. No one will ever agree.

There is a saying that when you go to buy cattle, the seller puts the cow in water and shows you just the horns. Now, industry and the state are showing people only the horns. All information is not there. They are tricking us. The trend of development is very mean and cruel. If you tell the benefit to the people, they will agree. The proposal for a 26 per cent share in profits may help.

How can there be mining or power projects without conflict? If you go to gram sabhas for consent, no one will get an inch of land.

You have to rationalise mining. Don’t spread everywhere. Exhaust resources in one place. Go where there are less people.

So, what will all these companies do? Besides, there are people everywhere.

What is driving mining? It is pursuit of profit. If there are people, then include the people. Once miners start paying the environment costs, share profits, the number of players will fall. Profits are coming only from cheap resources. You get nothing for corn, but plenty if you sell corn flakes. So, you make profits from cheap resources. How can profits be infinite when resources are finite? Any development which leaves out people means trouble.

Vanxim kidnappings: Worker, son still untraceable

Jamla Kujur (40) and is son Ashok Kujur (10) who were kidnapped on 19th May 2005 from Vanxim island still remain untraceable inspite of all the police search. Missing tribals Father-Son hails from Chatisgarh, thana Lailunga, Gam Bhagudega, Simvarpar. They were kidnapped at the mid-night from the island and taken towards Bicholim. Jamla was working on the agricultural farm of Silveira family that has stood between those trying to take over the island for the luxury tourism purpose like golf course and luxury villas. Amongst those who are acting to buy of this island is Mahendra Gaunekar from Ponda. Silveira family has paddy fields in a land that developers have their eyes in Vanxim. Jamla was a labourer on these paddy fields for number of years. It is suspected that this kidnapping has been undertaken to discourage Silveira family from cultivating thier land. The family still awaits for the two missing one to return back to Vanxim island. Where is Jamla Kujur? Where is Ashok Kujur? Who has kidnapped them? Is it too difficult to guess? Perhaps the kidnappers and particularly the masterminds of kidnappings are thinking that with the disapearance of the two they can invade and conquer Vanxim island. If this is indeed the case then they are sadly mistaken.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Double lining of South Western Railway: for whose benefit?


The Hon’ble Chief Minister,

Government of Goa,

Secretariat, Porvorim,

Bardez, Salcete, Goa.


With reference to the reports appearing in the media regarding the Railway Board approving double lining of the South Western Railway from Vasco to Hospet, permit me to point out a few really important matters to you:

1. In the first place, this is an initiative taken by the Mormugao Port Trust which has been consistently bypassing the Government of Goa and in fact behaving like a state within a state. Besides, it is a matter of jurisdiction. Who plans and decides the development of Goa? The duly elected government of Goa or an organization that is carrying out a particular activity in the State? Has the Planning & Development Board of Goa recommended the doubling of the SWR? If not, what authority has the MPT to do so?

2. The doubling of the line will cause not only hardships to the people but also for your government. A large number of houses will be adversely affected if the SWR line in Goa is doubled and large tracts of scarce Goan land will once again be in the hands of Central Agency that truly does not give any tangible benefits to Goans in terms of recruitment.

3. There are a good number of heritage houses close to the railway track which will be badly affected if the SWR line is doubled as the vibrations caused by the rail movement will shake their foundations.

4. The increased traffic on the line will also cause noise pollution not to mention dust pollution.

5. After the SWR line in Goa was converted to broad gauge, people began facing a lot of problems as traffic increased and it became more and more difficult to cross the tracks. Long queues at the manned railway crossings are a common feature along the Goans landscape now. Therefore, the Government of Goa should insist that every railway crossing in Goa should have either a rail under bridge or a rail over bridge so that people are not put to hardships and until and unless this is provided for, no Goan land should be handed over to the Railways.

6. Besides, the Railways should also be asked to provide for over or under bridges as and where required in keeping with the needs of the State for the next 35 years as the Golden Jubilee Development Committee is preparing this road map for Goa.

7. Going by the tenor of the discussions in the recent in the State Assembly, it is evident that the Government of Goa is not quite happy with the manner in which MPT is behaving. Hence, before it becomes more authoritarian it would be better for the State Government to put the brakes on MPT’s ambitious expansion plans which are aimed at packing this Goa with more and more people from outside the State rather than helping our own Goans or Goa.

Therefore, I request to immediately write to the Union Railway Minister and the Railways Board bringing to their notice our apprehensions and also listing out these demands in the interest of Goa.

Requesting you to treat this matter as urgent and serious,

Yours sincerely,


Matanhy Saldanha

(Former Tourism Minister)

Niyamgiri mining project cancellation:discussions on western ghats e-group

24 August 2010

A landmark decision by Jairam Ramesh - excellent in quality and exceptional in courage for upholding environment policy and law. Moreso, when Orissa Chief Minister who rarely travels outside the state, flew to Delhi to raise the issue with the Prime Minister, of course in support of Anil Agarwal's Vedanta. Interestingly, the Chief Minister had the cheek to remark `i hope it is not politics'. Someone should tell CM Navin Patnaik that what he was doing in Delhi was undoubtedly `politics'.

The wildlife, the trees, the tribals and the gods of Niyamgiri shower blessings on Jairam!

Keep it up!

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma

24 August 2010

Dear Dr. Sharma,

I am sure the Niyamgiri gods must be praising this human endeavour of Jairam!

Isnt it interesting to note that humans are helping gods.

Anyway, the minister deserves a Jaadu ki Japhhi.

Lets see how he deals with the POSCO case.


Rakesh Bhatt

24 August 2010

I join you Sudhirendar in congratulating Jairam Ramesh for this landmark decision ! This was indeed courageous and a strong signal to industry and government officials involved in corrupt practices and in the habit of ignoring the laws of the Nation.

Carmen Miranda

24 August 2010

we really must enlist the aid of some competent person or group to look at such same violations

around lonavala eg amby valley and lavasa

and they claim to be planned cities

only all their working staff is bussed from far away

in any case the gods be praise d

Shyamala Sanyal

24 August 2010

Good decision. Positive signals!
Congrats to entire team particularly to the Saxsena committee, Dr.
Usha Ramanathan, Shri Vinod Rishi, Shri J.K. Tiwari.

This decision gives more hope and energy for people working in
stopping the mining related works.

Mohan raj K.

14 August 2010

I too join Sudhirendar in Congratulating the minister. In this great ancient country the democracy has some hopes and there is a space for people and nature. We should support JR ..


25 August 2010

I only hope all these congratulatory messages are going direct to the Minister. He needs to know as well.


25 August 2010

Aptly said Sudhirendar!

I feel lucky to be a witness of these processes here in Delhi. Am presently working closely with the ministry on Green India Mission Project so get to know first hand news on Vedanta, Jindal etc...

Regards to all,

25 August 2010

Dear All,

It is a luck of the forests,wild life,rivers,valleys,marine life & tribals in our country that some body like Hon'able MoEF Shri Jairam Ramesh is still there to do the justice.Otherwise it seems the entire governance is happening for the corporate lobby & under the name of "Development",they are hell bent on creating deserts every where.But at last this decision about OMC in Orissa is a ray of great hope in future.

Even in Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg ,all new permissions to mining/TPPs etc are given a moratorium upto Dec'10.It seems the green,biodiversed patches at the foothills of Sahyadri in Konkan region would get declared as ESA,as WGEEP would submit its report & Hon'able MOEF seems to be positive about it.

Let us see.

Long live Jairam Rameshji !!!

Dr Jayendra Parulekar.

25 August 2010


This (below) is my e-note to Mr.Jairam Ramesh on his Decision concerning the Vedanta project in Orissa. His Decision is ATTACHED, in case you have not seen it. It is long (as any reasonable speaking order would be) but surely worth reading in this troubled case.

Best wishes,

Sudhir Vombatkere

Dear Mr.Jairam Ramesh,

I have just read through your Decision dated 24 August on the Lanjhigarh bauxite mining issue. Please accept my most hearty congratulations for having upheld the Constitution of India and the laws made by Parliament, in letter and spirit. Such a speaking order as your Decision is, puts many Supreme Court and High Court judgements to shame.The fact that you have immediately placed it in the public domain speaks for your commendable sense of fair play as far as the people are concerned.

By your Decision, you have not only done a service to the Dongria Khond people but to the entire nation by upholding people's rights and protecting them against the on-going depredations of corporate raiders in collusion with government officials.

In an age of declining standards of governance, your bold and transparently honest action has provided that “light at the end of the tunnel” that all of us Indians are longing for. In an ambience of declining hope of fair governance, I pray for more strength to you in your endeavours to show that there can still be a people-oriented, law-abiding governance system. I also pray for your personal safety, especially as you have displeased very powerful forces.

Best wishes and regards,

Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere (Retd)

25 August 2010

Hi folks

I am pretty sure Jairam Ramesh's email box must be full by this time with letters of praise and support. Nowadays i feel proud to be living in an
India responsible towards its environment. Let us Thank Shri Jairam Ramesh for making us feel proud. He deserves all the credit for taking such a courageous decision in midst of so much indecisiveness in other development sectors,The Minister through this landmark decision has also stated that arresting the destruction of forests and saving the ancestral lands of tribals is also 'Development'.

We are with you

Latha Anantha
Research Centre

26 August 2010

I am not joining the bandwagon in garlanding the Honorable Minister
for Environment and Forests for the decision to halt Vedanta in its
tracks. The truth of the matter is that it was HUGE pressure, both
nationally and internationally, that left the government with no
choice but to do what it did. It was FORCED to. It also helped that
there was enough evidence to suggest that Vedanta Resources was a
company damned several times over, internationally.

For all the roses thrown at his feet, I am not inclined to forget the
minister's prevarications and arrogance when conducting public
hearings over the infamous BT brinjals...or the fact that the the
minister and his government chose to ignore the fact that farmers in
Andhra Pradesh had already grown the damn brinjals and were exhibiting
them at the hearing in Hyderabad! Who gave them the seeds??

Let us please not forget that on the other side we still have the
Posco project, guilty of violating the laws but now expected to be
cleared by the PM himself, the fundamental reason of course, above any
law of the land, and certainly above what any of us may think, is that
high-growth-rate India should not frighten away foreign investment
with something as petty as environmental 'intransigence'.

Before we pat ourselves on the backs and pop out the corks, there's
also the matter of a dam in Andhra Pradesh and Adivasis there soon to
have water flowing above their noses. There's Sterlite in Tuticorin,
where, a week or so back, in collusion with the police, activists
protesting the project were arrested and detained. There's still Coca
Cola in Kerala isn't there, contesting a decision that the world and
its mother knows went against the company? There's the farcical
situation of Goa, where no one, not even the most ardent activists can
tell you exactly which mine is legal and which is not, such the legal
skulduggery at work, such the impressive technique of throwing
activists to the mercy of wolves in the courts.

But then why should this information be made easily available when you
have provision for the RTI, a state-sponsored device intended to keep
you from the truth as long as it takes to have illegalities brought
within the ambit of the law. In Goa there are over 400 illegal stone-
quarrying businesses, but since politicians and their functionaries
have a hand in this trade, the government in Goa now proposes to make
these quarries legal!

Isn't this the bottom line? It translates into a very simple logic.
Companies give out the money and start the work, knowing full well
that the necessary clearances will come...

The way it works recalls a political cartoon of the 60s, showing an
American tycoon giving out coin to an impoverished African with his
right hand, and stealing from behind him with his left hand...

The honorable minister is yet to be tested. Let's keep our roses till
we really know...

Hartman de Souza

26 August 2010

Dear Hartman

It is indeed true that the Honorable Minister for Environment and Forests still has a long list of crucial issues to tackle and battles to win, as you rightly pointed out.

But lets put ourselves in his shoes for a moment and measure the high level pressures he is confronting every day from every other Ministry in the government and the PM and big business and industry and so on, plus the huge power of corruption by government officials and the judiciary - all in a terrible rush to pursue "rapid economic growth at all costs" and just interested in getting rich fast at all costs, all of them totally against any decisions and lawful measures to protect the environment and therefore out there together to block the work and the mandate of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The corruption is so ingraned in the DNA of our political and administration systems and big business and politicians are so used to get away with murder with impunity and so used to ignore laws and regulations that when someone like Jairam Ramesh puts the breaks in one of the most powerful and notorious multinational companies like Vedanta, we need to acknowledge it as an achievement, as it required an enormous amount of courage and integretity, despite the international pressure.

In my modest opinion, Jairam Ramesh has won a big battle in a long term war, which should be seen as a lesson and a reminder to all those businesses and industries wanting to carry on "business as usual" , that the path to drag India to the 21st Century and modernity includes respecting the laws of the land and the rights of the people and the protection of the environment.

JR will win some and lose some battles in the process, but given the current circumstances in the country which is pursuing rapid economic growth, I wouldn't like to be in his shoes...so let's give him the courage and popular support he needs to fight our battles in the front line!


26 August 2010

Dear all,
just adding to what Carmen is pointing out,

Please do not forget that the Legal recourse for vedanta is not shut. they can file an appeal against the MoEF order in the High court or in the Supreme court. Secondly, in this entire hullabaloo the struggle of the people, their supporters is completely missed and not being acknowledged and the entire process is being hijacked by the minister and we as civil society members are taking this away from the people who actually kept the struggle on on the ground locally, nationally, internationally. Thirdly, we should not forget that the Lanjigarh plant at the foothills of Niyamgiri is still functioning and will procure bauxite from somewhere else which the COO of the company has already hinted at and he has also made the Orissa State govt liable for procuring bauxite for their Lanjigarh plant as per their MOU. So friends the war is still on..... this should be looked at as a breathing space to muster more strength and continue to apply the pressure and as Carmen rightly put it - ' lets keep our roses till we really know'

Aameen! – Krishna

26 August 2010

Dear Carmen and Hartman

I think we need to bear in mind that this is not really about Jairam. He may be more scrupulous than most Indian politicians, but the issue is how the MoEF operates in relation to big companies and the power clusters in the political parties.

The MoEF now potentially has money on the table for Carbon trading from its forests and other green funding streams (REDD+, CDM, voluntary carbon markets). This gives it a position vis-a-vis the Chidambarams of this world: The environment is going up the budgetary agenda.

But there are indeed still the POSCO and TATA projects, Jindal sponge iron and so on and so on.

This is about the regulatory and institutional environment, the above political economy and pressure from mass movements ultimately. In other words, we need to work in a way that is not dependent on one politician being "nice" even if that is helpful sometimes.

The point is that there are legal limits on the power of these Companies, in terms of both environmental and tribal rights legislation, but that these rights will not be respected without ongoing pressure from social movements, as well as funding streams for the environment.

This is why conservationists and tribal rights people need to get onto the same page, because otherwise things like Carbon Trading will be converted into something that ends up funding the diversion of Forest by the Vedantas of this world - this is already the pattern emerging with the Supreme Court's moves to implement Compulsory Afforestation Schemes under the Godarvarmen case - rather than acting to protect the forests and the people that live in them.

It should also be noted the UK DfID has a huge influence in Orissa, and has been part and parcel of opening up Orissa to private mining companies like Vedanta. This means that Firengs like myself have a responsibility to get our governments to stop such corruption of the rule of law.


26 August 2010

Krishna, I take the points you both made, and yes, we must not forget the tremendous long term suffering and pressure put by the civil society in Orissa and across India about this issue which I have no doubts also contributed to the ultimate decisions taken by the government. However I am under the impression that in this democracy of ours, the voice of the people is seldom listen to when business interests are considered.

Perhaps I am wrong, so please elucidate me!


26 August 2010

Vedanta's Malco plant was shut down after a prolonged legal & ground battle over illegal mining in kolli hills/ shervarayon ranges & Mettur.

Jindal's proposed iron ore mining project in eastern ghats - kanja malai, salem dist & in kawithi hills, thiruvanamalai dist were cancelled following a huge public uproar.

The company infact had to withdraw its salem dist application.

Sheer power of people & that is the only thing that would win ....


26 August 2010

I feel that if we could have a blog in a daily newspaper, as per the exchanges that have been happening here, it would be rivetting for people as an ongoing daily saga. What vitality & renewed liveliness it would bring to the press... The newspaper could say they have no responsibility for views expressed.. This kind of opening up could be so dynamic.. Any chance? Vanya

26 August 2010

news papers are owned by very powerful businessmen and politicians

that is why we will be depending on the internet

onne paper launches a campaign one man

eg cnn ibn lokmat is going hammer

and tongs

against the pawars

father anddaughter duo

who are up to all kinds of

shady deals

now the CBI has given that rascal sharad pawar a clean chit in the IPL business

only last month a news item in lokmat and on cnn ibn was blanked out after one day

it concerned supriya sules citizenship

it seems she has property in singapore

which she cannot have unless she has citizenship there

then what is she doing in indian politics

now we have to worry about the nuclear power bill

much disaster coming to unsuspecting people /villagers

we have so much sunshine

why cant we use more of solar power


27 August 2010


Hartman DOES have a very strong point. And I am among those who sent a personal congratulatory e-mail to Jairam Ramesh! I do not regret having sent it, because Jairam Ramesh DOES need support, but I at least need to ask him why he does not take similar action (or demand take similar action) in long outstanding cases which are very clear from the legal standpoint, as Hartman indignantly points out. In addition to the instances that Hartman lists, there is also the Narmada (Sardar Sarovar) case - a very old case - where all that he has to do is issue an order from MoEF based upon the Supreme Court's decision.

I have appreciated JR's action because it has given the Dongria Khond people a reprieve against the onslaught of one of the biggest corporate raiders (Vedanta). This will surely send messages to other corporate raiders that people's voices cannot be ignored because there are some people in government who are doing the right thing (even if for political reasons, as is clear in this case when Rahul Gandhi announced that he is their "soldier in Delhi", and which obviously gave political strength to JR to do what he did). The corporate land-grabbers will no doubt re-group and adopt different tactics ... but we need to have (1) one section appreciating what is right and good even while (2) another section asks for more, like NFFPFW demanding that land-grabbing by corporates all across India must immediately cease (SEE ATTACHED FILE), and (3) yet another section asks why A, B, C, D ... have not been done on the lines of Vedanta.

So let us all participate as best we can.

Bravo, Hartman!

Sudhir Vombatkere

27 August 2010

Dear friends

These communications have been most passionate, constructive, educational and balanced in tone and susbtance, and I want to thank all of you who have engaged in it so far and I hope we continue in the same spirit.

I now suggest we actually also think together in doing something constructive about it and go beyhond just writing to each other in this forum.

Could we perhaps write a letter supporting the Vedanta achievement not only to JR but to PM, and the CM of Orissa and Rahul Gandhi.

We could also perhaps give the MoEF a list of other cases that still need urgent resolution and we are all watching and waiting for results, although no doubt he knows very well what he needs to do next. We need to also write to Rahul Gandhi and give him a list of other people he can be not a soldier but promote him to a " general in Delhi"...

From our part we also need to be realistic about our expectations, given the massive list of cases pending and forces involved - given the slow pace of the justice system, I am sure many cases will take time to get resolved, but the Narmada !!!! ?? a classic case of chronic deafness by politicians when it comes to hearing the voices of the people!

The bottom line is that JR needs public support to do his job without fear of being transferred suddently to another ministry.... I frankly don't care much at this stage if he executes the mandate of the MoEF for political reasons or what ever reasons, after all he is there because he is a politician, as long as we get the right and just solutions.

We should support him and let the whole nation know that we support him when he manages to do something that is right , just and for the protection of the environment and people's rights and therefore from our point of view, like in the Vedanta case, which should not been seen as letting him off the hook about all the other similar cases that need resolving.

I am sure also that Hartman will be able to publish an opinion piece in a national paper like Hindustan Times or something, as it is important for us to try and infiltrate the mainstream press. It is not easy, but we can try. Come on Hartman, write something about what we have been discussing here and let's try and get it published.


27 August 2010

Carmen, you wrote “Could we perhaps write a letter supporting the Vedanta achievement not only to JR but to PM, and the CM of Orissa and Rahul Gandhi.

It means we write to Naveen Patnaik, the CM of Orissa who made a trip for agarwal & posco to get their files cleared. & to whom Manmohan, the PM of India that has been bleeding in the heart & head because Dear Manmohan/Montek & Chidu wanna fill their corporate master's pocket ...


27 August 2010

Sorry Piyush, you misunderstood me, that was not what I meant.

I think all those powerful people who supported Vedanta, should know that there are thousands of us out there who support the decision taken by the MoEF despite all the efforts to the contrary by the CM and government officials of Orissa and others.


Not only Niyamgiri: Stop Resource-Grab Everywhere!

The NFFPFW (National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers) welcomes Indian government's decision to deny forest clearance to the Vedanta mining project at Niyamgiri. Though much delayed (after the MoEF consistently ignoring for years tomes of reports and evidences of barefaced violations of laws by Vedanta and the Orissa government), this decision is a just move, and perhaps for the first time in the history of the country the government has said ‘no’ to a large and powerful corporation on social and environmental grounds.

The Niyamgiri mining denial is the result of a sustained and hard-fought struggle by the Dongria Kondhs, the Kutia Kondhs, and the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, supported by many other people and groups in India and abroad. This is indeed a victory for the people’s movements on the ground and will inspire other struggles throughout the country.

Nonetheless, it is premature to assume that the machinations of Vedanta Group will stop with the denial of mining in Niyamgiri. Vedanta’s illegal alumina refinery at Lanjigarh is still operative and, given the scores of violations it has evidently committed over the years, a decision to shut it down immediately must be taken and punitive measures be considered against the company and their cronies in the state government. There is a need to be vigilant against further possible transgressions by the company. Moreover, it would rather be brazen mockery of the recent government decision itself and a travesty of justice and democratic norms, if Vedanta is given some alternative sites to extract bauxite to feed the refinery, as the company has already started mobilizing on the corridors of power for the same.

It is also important to keep in mind that one denial and one piece of justice will not undo years of governmental kowtowing to corporate greed and innumerable narratives of injustice and illegalities unfolding everywhere in India. From Arunachal Pradesh to Jammu and Kashmir to Himachal Pradesh, and from Orissa to Maharashtra and Goa, forest communities, farmers, and fish-workers are still locked in grim battles against the corporate—State nexus in order to defend their social, economic, cultural, and ecological existence—in essence, their identity. All these people demand justice—which means saying an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of resource-grab by large or small corporations in nexus with politicians and sundry contractors. In the name of ‘development’, no more forests and lands must be taken away from people—meaning, no more violation of their legal and constitutional rights at will.

In the wake of the government decision to scrap Vedanta’s mining project on Niyamgiri, the issue of Forest Rights Act 2006 – and thereby the issue of respecting the legitimate rights of forest communities – has now assumed centre stage in public discourses on such ‘development’ projects. Keeping the democratic spirit of this particular ‘decision’, the government should hereafter stop considering corporate interests blindly on priority and place the ‘rights of the people’ above anything else.

The Vedanta case is just a symptom of a much larger menace. And, therefore, one Niyamgiri will not suffice. We join all the people’s movements of the country in demanding that all illegal clearances given to mining, dam, and similar development projects are revoked and, more importantly, no new forest clearance is given to manifestly anti-people and illegal projects, like POSCO in Jagatsingpur and TATA in Kalinganagar in Orissa. At the same time, the government must stop its military offensive in the forest areas ostensibly in aid of profit-hungry corporations.

It is time that the government of this country starts respecting the country's Constitution and its own laws. We hope that the decision on Niyamgiri marks the beginning for a democratic process where the government brings all its Constitutional obligations to the fore whenever it takes a decision hereafter.

National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)

25 August 2010

Appeal to reconsider Mopa Airport




Date: 26th July 2010


Shri. Jairam Ramesh

Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests

C-1/9, Lodhi Gardens, Rajesh Pilot Marg,

New Delhi- 110 003.



Dear Sir,

We are shocked to know that the Central Government has given the nod for a greenfield International Airport at Mopa, Goa on 10th June 2010, without carrying out essential studies regarding the necessity and the feasibility of the project and, equally importantly, without considering the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed project.

The proposed Mopa International Airport initially requires an investment of at least Rs 4000 crores, and shall cause the loss of more than 100 lakhs sq meters of fertile lands belonging to 15,000 farmers, who shall not only lose their lands, but also their livelihoods. In the view of the huge costs, a detailed techno-commercial feasibility report should have been prepared by experts before commencing acquisition proceedings. Similarly, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) would seem mandatory before locating the Airport on Mopa plateau, considering the fact that the plateaus and upper slopes in the plateau region of Goa are highly eco-sensitive zones. The environmental and socio-economic studies assume even greater importance in the light of the emerging consensus that Goa is already suffering from over-exploitation of resources.

The traditional ecological communities belonging to Mopa and its neighboring villages are facing a grave threat today due to the proposal for construction of an International Airport on our lands. Unless there is an immediate intervention from your good self, thousands of farming families will be displaced by the ongoing acquisitions of prime agricultural lands for this thoughtless proposal.

The fact is that this grandiose project is absolutely unnecessary and threatens to reverse the socio-economic development that our State has witnessed over the past few decades. The arbitrary decision to construct a second International Airport in tiny Goa is a huge blunder. In these circumstances, the ongoing Land Acquisition is absolutely insensitive to the lives of thousands of farming families, who are being arbitrarily displaced and dispossessed for a project that will never see the light of dawn.

We wish to bring to your immediate notice the following facts which clearly show that the arbitrary decision of the State Government of Goa needs to be scrapped without delay in order to save precious money and time, and to save Goa in general, and the Taluka of Pernem in particular, from certain and irreversible destruction:


1. It is the Union Government’s responsibility to ensure that Greenfield International Airports are not constructed at the wrong places. However, the approval of a second International Airport in Goa seems to have been given without a proper review of the necessity, or feasibility, of two International Airports in Goa.

2. Airports are crucial centers of development of the Nation. While well chosen sites for Greenfield Airports have the potential to catalyze economic growth, poor or misconceived site selection is sure to wreak havoc on the existing economy. It is therefore absolutely critical that a Nation must not make any error in the selection of sites for new Airports and that such decisions follow detailed and thorough study of all possibilities and options available. In the case of the proposal for Mopa International Airport, the Indian Government has allowed a thoughtless ‘wish’ of the Goa Government to override all National considerations and norms of planning.

3. Airports require huge investments from the State, and can make or break the economy of a region depending on whether they are successful or not. Such large investment of the Public Funds must surely not go waste, since a failed project of this magnitude would seriously damage India’s chances to achieve necessary and desired growth. The Union Government must seriously consider the viability of the Mopa International Airport, before it is too late.

4. Goa ranks a lowly 9th by volume as per the air traffic report of 2009 among all the Airports in the country. Cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad not only have higher volumes of traffic, but are also having better growth potential than Goa. In fact, there are signs that Goa is suffering as a destination due to over-development and may be fast losing her charm, which could translate into negative growth in the air traffic volume. On the other hand other there are several Indian States that need development catalysts, and growing cities that have genuine traffic congestion issues, where greenfield Airports are necessary solutions. It is therefore extremely surprising that two International Airports are approved for Goa, including a greenfield International Airport at Mopa, before considering the needs of the larger and fast growing cities, or the underdeveloped parts of the country.

5. While planning new Airports, it is important to first ensure that the site selection is not influenced by vested interests. In particular, speculation in land is recognized as the most serious threat to proper site selection. In the case of Mopa Airport, the site selected lies in the middle of a completely agricultural region, supporting a largely agrarian population, which continues to be deprived due to non-implementation of various constitutional and legal provisions for decades. Most of the lands in Pernem taluka are tenanted lands, but the ownership continues to vest in the names of the landlords of yesteryears, who are politicians or influential businessmen today. The tenants remain without titles to the lands they have cultivated and possessed for centuries and are also without any education or vocational training, except in agriculture. A study conducted by us shows that in the past 10 years huge chunks of agricultural lands, many of which are tenanted, have been purchased by politicians and other rich persons. These local politicians and other influential persons are pushing the demand for the second Airport in order to make large profits by selling the agricultural lands which they have purchased for a pittance. In their blind greed, the local politicians are manipulating the Union Government into taking this completely wrong decision, which shall destroy the environment, society and economy of Goa, unless the Union Government exercises its powers and stops this project.

6. The local politicians have falsely portrayed the need for a second International Airport within the State of Goa. The proposal for the second Airport has been made possible only by avoiding all basic planning norms, procedures and checks and balances and by giving false information. The State Government has ignored all National and local interests while pushing their proposal for the Mopa Airport. It is therefore clear that if the Union Government wishes to ensure that the development of Airports in the country does not falter, it must insist on detailed studies of the necessity and feasibility of the two International Airports in Goa, and the environmental and socio-economic impact of the second Airport on the region around the site selected. Till such time that the Union Government is not satisfied with the necessity and feasibility of two Airports in Goa, the State Government should be asked to stay the ongoing land acquisition proceedings.

7. The Policy of Airport Infrastructure (source: Ministry of Civil Aviation, December 1997) states that no Greenfield airports will normally be allowed within an aerial distance of 150 kms of an existing airport (paragraph 3. of the section entitled 'Greenfield Airports'). It goes on to state that where a Greenfield airport is allowed as a second airport in the same city or close vicinity, the parameters for distribution of traffic between the two airports will be clearly spelt out. We state that that the approval of the Mopa Airport does not conform to the Policy of Airport Infrastructure, since the restriction on Greenfield Airports in the vicinity of existing airports has been arbitrarily ignored. Mopa has two existing airports in its vicinity (Dabolim, Goa and Sindhudurg Airport, Maharashtra) and therefore the restrictions should not have been violated. Further, no clear parameters for distribution of traffic between the three airports have been spelt out, which should have been done before the approval was granted. It is stated that if a studied attempt was made to distribute the present and future traffic between the three airports, Mopa Airport would have never been approved.


The Goa Government has arbitrarily decided that it needs a second Airport, without carrying out any studies regarding the feasibility of two International Airports within the tiny State. This arbitrary decision is bad due to blatant failure of the State Authorities to apply their mind, to carry out planning, and to follow essential procedures.

If proper norms and procedures had been followed, the following considerations would have required the planners and decision-makers not to plan for a second Airport in Goa :

1. The existing International Airport at Dabolim, Goa has sufficient capacity to cater to all the passenger and cargo traffic for Goa. In spite of the operational restrictions imposed by the Indian Navy at present (some of which are arbitrary and unnecessary), and the scope for improvement in operational procedures being followed, Dabolim Airport comfortably handles peak traffics during the tourism season. The Dabolim Airport is currently being upgraded under a Rs 500 Crore project. After completion of ongoing works and with further improvements in the Airport Operations and infrastructure, the Dabolim Airport can comfortably handle traffic for the State of Goa in the coming decades. There is therefore no need for a second International Airport to be constructed in Goa. In order to justify its ‘wish’ for a second International Airport at Goa, the State Government has attempted to conceal the fact that the existing Dabolim Airport has sufficient capacity to handle the future air traffic for many years to come.

2. Dabolim International Airport is located at the center of Goa, while Mopa is located at the Northern end of the State. A large majority of the local population, as well as most of the tourists heading for the popular beaches and Hotels in South and Central Goa, will continue using Dabolim Airport in the future even if Mopa Airport is constructed. The Government has given a commitment to the Goan population that the use of Dabolim Airport for domestic and International flights shall continue even if Mopa International Airport is built and put to use. As the Dabolim Airport will continue to remain operational, the Mopa International Airport is not feasible.

3. The Mopa plateau lies about 20 nautical miles north of the Dabolim International Airport, and about 23 nautical miles south of the Chipi Airport being constructed in Maharashtra. While the present National Policy requires any greenfield Airport to be outside a 150 kms radius from any existing Airport, in this case two greenfield Airports have been granted approval within 150 kms from the existing Dabolim International Airport. In fact, the construction of the greenfield Mopa International Airport shall create three operational Civilian Airports within a radius of 20-25 Nautical miles. This extraordinary situation is not considered in any of the reports or other documents obtained under the RTI Act.

4. The Dabolim Airport has always been an International Civilian Airport, even before the liberation of Goa from colonial rule. However, since the liberation of Goa, the Indian Navy has sometimes created unnecessary hurdles for the civilian operations at the Airport. This issue can easily be solved with proper co-ordination between the Indian Navy, Airport Authority of India and the Ministries concerned.

5. The existing Dabolim Airport site is superior to the proposed site at Mopa in terms of geographical characteristics. The plateau at Mopa has disadvantages on account of its limited size and the steep slopes which surround it on all sides. The Mopa plateau is located very close to the towering Western Ghats and is surrounded by prime agricultural lands and rural settlements, while the Dabolim Airport is located much closer to the coast and to the urban centers and tourism zones.

6. In addition to the issues raised in paragraph 2 above, the feasibility of a second Airport in Goa is seriously in doubt on various grounds. Firstly, unless at least one Airline is committed to locating its ‘hub’ (parking its fleet on the tarmac) at a new greenfield Airport, such a project should not be considered. Since all existing domestic and International Airlines operating in this region already have hubs at Mumbai, Bangalore, or Hyderabad, Mopa Airport has a distinct disadvantage to start with. Secondly, the present Goa bound air traffic largely consists of charter flights for tourism and other tourists. There are several indications today that Goa has already crossed its capacity for sustainable tourism. In fact, the ongoing environmental and socio-economic degradation, combined with rising crime, drugs and other scandals, have already started driving away the better tourists from this rapidly deteriorating destination. At the same time, as stated by the Government and its agencies, this new Airport cannot be feasible unless large numbers of tourists are attracted by constructing various new projects, such as 'ice city', 'sports city', I.T. park, shopping malls, etc. While such a strategy may catalyze economic growth in under developed places, Goa is already over-developed, and therefore the wrong place for another International Airport, which shall only degrade the place further and cause a complete collapse of tourism in Goa.


The State Government has attempted to justify its demand for a second International Airport by employing a company called M/s. Bhagat Infrastructures to study the second Airport proposal. Subsequently, the Government appointed M/s. ADPi to carry out a study on the Mopa site. From the documents received under the RTI Act from the Authorities, it is clear that these reports are only eyewash, and cannot form the basis of the approval of a second International Airport in Goa. Some basic flaws in these studies and reports are:

1. The appointment of M/s Bhagat Infrastructures to prepare the preliminary feasibility report can be termed a farce, based on the prima facie evidence collected under the RTI Act. Firstly, the company seems to be the front office for a Spanish company eager to bag Airport construction projects, especially the Mopa International Airport construction project, thereby disqualifying it from taking on the role of a Consultant. Secondly, the single page letter from the said company regarding their conclusions is completely unacceptable. The said company was led on by the State Government to believe that it was going to get the Contract to build the new International Airport, which explains the hasty report given in favor of the second Airport. Thirdly, it is obvious that the capabilities of the said company were woefully inadequate from the start of the challenging consultancy assignment. The State Government has therefore completely failed to apply its mind to the issue regarding a second Airport in Goa and is guilty of gross negligence in taking this rash decision.

2. Critique of ADPi preliminary feasibility report.

a. This report does not touch the issues of the necessity and feasibility of a second Airport. The consultant does not have any mandate to study the feasibility of a second Airport in Goa. In the absence of this basic study, the feasibility report has very limited relevance to the decision whether or not to build a second Airport in Goa.

b. There are no environmental or socio-economic studies carried out by the consultant. This can easily be verified by comparing the statements made in the report with the ground reality.

c. The report includes some gravely erroneous statements and excludes many significant facts regarding the Mopa plateau. It mentions that there are no permanent structures within the Airport site. It goes on to say that some nomads build a few temporary kutcha huts when they bring their cattle to graze on the plateau. It then concludes that there are no rehabilitation issues related to the use of this land to build an Airport. But in reality, the environmental and socio-economic impact of the proposed airport is massive. There are about 150 permanent houses, some of them around 200 years old, inside the land to be acquired. The extensive agricultural activities on the plateau and its sides are not mentioned in the report at all. There is also no reference to unique Dhangar settlement on the plateau, or to the ancient religious significance of the plateau to the villagers from the surrounding villages.

d. The report mentions that the lower plain ground can be used for commercial activities, housing complexes and other infrastructure for the Mopa Airport. In reality, the upper slopes around the plateaus are either thickly forested or used for farming. The lower slopes and plains are thickly populated and house most of the farmers and other locals, who are mostly dependent on their agricultural lands, both in the plains and on the plateau above. If the lower plains and slopes are also acquired from the locals, it will translate into complete displacement of all the local communities.

e. The lands to be acquired for the Airport include, or are adjoining, vast stretches of cashew plantations, which constitute the major commercial crop for the farmers. It is roughly estimated that the agricultural produce from the plateau and the slopes around it is valued at more than 50 crores of rupees every year, which equates to the subsistence of more than 15,000 families.

f. Existence of substantial infrastructure for the residents in the form of school, electricity installations, roads and irrigation canals etc have not been considered in the report.

g. The State Governments of Goa and Maharashtra have jointly spent Rs. 1612.15 crores on the Tillari irrigation project and another Rs. 524.54 crores on canals network running around the Mopa plateau. If the Airport is constructed at Mopa, this huge investment shall also go waste.


The Mopa Airport site lies on a plateau next to the Western Ghats. The area around the plateau is mostly agricultural, but also includes thickly forested upper slopes. The plateau itself has a highly sensitive ecology. There is presence of a wide variety of flora and fauna in the area. The forests around the Mopa plateau are contiguous with neighboring parts of the Western Ghats and form a part of the habitat and range necessary for the survival of many species. A few months back there was a tiger killing registered in the forests at Keri in Sattari taluka, which are located only kms away from the proposed Airport site. The presence of tigers in various places within Goa was also confirmed during the recent survey conducted by the forest department , including at , only kms from the proposed airport site.

The Mopa Plateau is also extremely important as the major aquifer in the region, feeding tens of thousands of families with water for their daily needs and for irrigation. The numerous springs and wells in the region are recharged and fed by the aquifer lying under the plateau. The construction of the airport shall surely affect this aquifer, and the persons, economies and environment dependent on it, adversely.

It is seen that the environmental impact of the proposed airport is going to be significant to say the least. However, no studies have been conducted on the environmental impact, while the acquisition proceedings have been started. This is an incorrect procedure, especially for such a large project located in a ecologically sensitive area.


The proposed airport is threatening about 15,000 persons with direct displacement and many more indirectly. There is no study done about the impact of the new airport on various sectors of the existing economy of the region, or on the fragile fabric of this agrarian society. The Government reports are completely oblivious to the massive socio-economic displacement this airport shall cause and attempts to hide the facts by saying that there shall be no socio-economic impact at all. This is obviously a misrepresentation.

The decision taken to build a second Airport can only be justified on the basis of rapid growth in tourism in the state of Goa, but bad policies allowing mining to destroy the forests and water resources, uncontrollable garbage and sewage that have polluted places of tourist interests, and scandals of sex, drugs and violence have badly affected tourism in the state. It is clear today that the assumption that tourism in Goa shall keep on growing is wrong and that the challenge facing tourism in Goa is not growth but sustainability.

It is seen that absolutely no socio-economic impact studies have been carried out for this massive development project. The Government is blindly pursuing a decision that is marred with complete lack of application of mind and failure to recognize the need of the hour. Without carrying out the requisite studies, embarking on such a large project in this densely populated agricultural region is certain to cause tremendous socio-economic upheaval and displacement.


This is a desperate appeal from all the citizens of Goa asking for your speedy intervention to save this paradise on earth from irreversible destruction.

We humbly request you:

· To direct the State Government to cancel the acquisition proceedings for Mopa Airport and to reconsider the proposal for a second Airport in Goa; Or,

· To direct the State Government to stay the acquisition proceedings for Mopa International Airport, while the Central Government studies the necessity and feasibility of a second International Airport in Goa, and the environmental and socio-economic impact of the proposed Airport on the site selected and the rest of the State.

Having placed our confidence in your foresight and wisdom, we await your urgent response to this desperate and final plea to save our lands and the lives of the future generations.

Thanking You,

Yours sincerely,

For Mopa Vimantall Piditt Xetkari Samiti


Sandip Kambli ( Secretary)