A detailed note substantiating objection to proposed mining roads & other allied mining activities by M/s Sesa Goa Ltd., Vedanta Group at Village-Panchawadi, Taluka-Ponda, State of Goa
We put before you the following facts for revival of the studies & plans in connection with the mining roads & other allied activities at Panchawadi:
1. Year 1981: House Committee set up by Government of Goa (GoG) to shift Curchorem Railway yards under the chairmanship of Shri. Vaikunth Desai the then Dy Speaker proves that the age old problem of dust & noise pollution is prevailing for last three decades.
(GoG till date miserably failed to take any concrete steps to eliminate or at least curtail the same and give justice to its citizens.)
2. Year 1989: Damodar Mangalji & Co. purchased about 56 hectares of wet land at Panchawadi. However they failed to waive off the tenancy rights of the cultivators. Subsequently these wet lands are taken over by Sesa Goa at a later stage.
3. Year 1990: Inspection report by a Committee set up by GoG led by Shri. Jaykrishnan the then Chief Secretary also studied the dust pollution problem.
4. Year 1991: Proposal of GoG regarding mining roads trough Panchawadi village was unanimously opposed by the Gramsabha.
5. Year 1993: Sesa Goa proposal of Bunder Project at Vizar-Khazan-Panchawadi and mining road from Codli to Panchawadi via Camarconda-Vagona-Amblai-Panchawadi was scrapped by the then Chief Minister (CM) Dr. Wilfred D’Souza by visiting Panchawadi village. In the capacity of CM he assured in presence of the then Father of St. Anthony’s Church of Panchawadi that no mining related projects will come in the green zone of Panchawadi. The villagers have witnessed the incident.
6. Year 1994: House Committee set by GoG under the Chairmanship of Adv. Mr. Domnick Fernandes the then Law Minister & Curchorem MLA proposed three stage recommendations. However these final recommendations didn’t include any individual road for Sesa Goa from Codli-Camarconda-Moisal-Panchawadi. Though the annexure to report of various meetings include one road from Costi-Bandol-Panchawadi for Sesa Goa the same is also not recommended. The recommended bypass road is from Uguem-Guddemol-Gandhinagar-Capxem which will be used by all mining companies.
7. Year 1997: TERI official study report advised road diversion from existing Codli-Curchorem road in Santona Village & the diversion to pass from Bandoli & Moisal villages & join further to Capxem bypass for exclusive use for Codli ore transport. Apart from this TERI recorded existence of dense Mangrove forests on 56 Hectares land identified for Bunder project at Panchawadi. “The original land under wet land agriculture over 5 years, been colonized by dense Mangroves.” (In other words Mangroves been colonised since 1992 & are now 18year old trees)
8. Year 1999: Among other Writ Petitions (WP) filed in the Hon. High Court on dust & noise pollution due to mining & allied activities Goa Foundation filed similar WP No123/1999 demanding closure of Curchorem Railway Yard. Chief Justice Mr. Sabharwal & Justice Mr. Bhatta passed an interim ORDER directing Chief Secretary (CS) GoG to file report after studying various Committee Reports. Accordingly CS filed the report in 2000 maintaining the recommendations of Domnic Committee except shifting of Railway Yard to Dukorkond, which he recommended to Xelvona. Other WP pending before the Hon High Court are as follows:
(a) WP 76/2002 pertains to Digashi-Panchawadi,
(b) WP 50/2006 regarding Sanvordem,
(c) WP 323/2006 is against shifting railway yard to Xelvona,
(d) WP 617/2006 pertains to Curchorem,
9. Year 2003: Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) approved Panchawadi Bunder Project of M/s Sesa Goa Ltd. Vide its letter Ref No.GCZMA/N/193/301 dated 9.1.2003. (Now lapsed since 5 years have passed, also the EIA is invalid)
10. Year 2006: Agreement between GoG & M/s Sesa Goa Ltd. is signed. Sect.4 under Land Acquisition Act (LA Act) was notified by Govt. of Goa which was objected by Dy. Conservator of Forests North Goa Division along with Villagers of Panchawadi under section 5A of the LA Act. Unanimous Gramsabha resolutions since 1991 of Village Panchayat Panchawadi are on record opposing the said project/proposal & acquisition. The Church & the Devasthans from Panchawadi have also written to the Governor of Goa against the project & mining roads.
11. GoG is acquiring around 1 lakh square meters of area for road and another 3 lakh square meters of land is being acquired from Panchawadi Village for a private Bunder project of Sesa Goa at Vizar-Khazan-Panchawadi 2.5Kms. downstream Zuari river towards Shiroda away from the existing loading jetties at Digashi-Panchawadi. Residents of Village Panchawadi are not taken in confidence till date & their lands are acquired. The acquisition is under the guise of public purpose. The correspondence & other records itself prove that it is a private project of Sesa Goa. The same cannot be acquired under Chapter II of the LA Act. Even if the GoG wants to acquire under Chapter VII of LA Act for a company (which actually cannot be done as it is for a private project) it will have to take a public hearing under Section 40 of LA Act in the Village. The Village Gramsabha is on record of unanimously opposing the said project since 1991.
12. Though the GoG tried to hush up the land acquisition proceedings land owners and tenants/cultivators have refused to accept the notices served under section 12 & 16 of LA Act. In the past Land Acquisition Officer had to leave the Village Panchayat office & run way within ten minutes during her visit to Panchawadi due to the stiff opposition of villagers to the said acquisition.
13. On perusal of the reports of various Committees & the studies it appears that the reports are based on wrong footings, which need revival. We are relying on reports of 1997 & prior to that, which are time barred now. The root cause of dust & noise pollution is the Curchorem Railway yard. The studies since 1981 are all focusing on the inability of MPT to take care of rail borne ore. The question of shifting Curchorem Railway Yard is not the issue now as MPT is developing rail borne ore handling terminal East of Breakwater at Vasco & is designed to handle 12 million tonnes ore. Automatically the rakes will be taken to MPT & Curchorem yard will be closed. As recommended by CS in his Report to Hon High Court even if the Curchorem Railway yard is to be shifted, it will be shifted to Shelvona to handle 10 million tonnes ore where river-rail interface will take care of pollution problem eliminating trucks. This will free truck transport of Karnataka ore on Goan public roads & bypasses to the tune of 22 million tonnes, which is about 50% of the Export through Goa last year. Now the bypasses should be designed only for Goan Ore.
14. It is admitted fact by the mining companies & GoG in various Public Interest Litigations in the Hon High Court that truck transport is the main source of dust pollution. Hence though Sesa Goa claims no demolition of houses and skirting the settlements, the road passes through the settlements, ultimately truck transport will affect the settlements & surroundings in the vicinity. Studies confirm that the mining dust affects vegetation and life in an area of 5Kms radius.
15. Domnic Committee report suggests construction of parallel bridge at Sanvordem & a bridge at Xelvona on river Zuari, shifting of railway yard, parallel road to existing road from Uguem-Costi-Guddemol-Gandhinagar-Capxem in the second & third stage recommendations. However there is neither any road proposed from Codli to Digashi-Panchawadi via Camarcond-Moisal nor any proposal like Sesa’s. Bypass suggested finally ends at Capxem/Xelvona/Digashi-Panchawadi and no bypass ends at Vizar-Khazan-Muxer-Novebhat-Panchawadi i.e. at the centre of Panchawadi village which has a public road from Shiroda to Sanvordem of about 7kms length. In the vicinity of the area where the project is proposed there are about 2500 residents, out of which 1500 are from scheduled tribe community dependent on paddy & cashew cultivation.
16. The report also suggests Construction of roads along or parallel to river Zuari from Capxem to Panchawadi. However these areas along the river are affected by backwaters of river Zuari. Hence in view of dense Mangrove forests identified along river Zuari at Panchawadi by TERI, Sawant & Karapurkar Committee reports CRZ clearance cannot be given to such a private project / Panchawadi Bunder Project & mining road.
17. Also it may kindly be noted that the GoG miserably failed even to implement temporary measures as first stage recommendations forget about reaching to second & third stage recommendations. Whatever is implemented as of now is only on the directives of Hon High Court that too after filing various Public Interest Litigations (PIL) by the citizens. Except construction of parallel road at Sanvordem by the then Chief Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar, that too in record time, no other recommendation is implemented by the GoG. The PIL filed by the residents of Curchorem with the help of NGO’s in 1999 is still pending in the Hon High Court even after a decade. GoG has no concrete plans to shift the railway yard from Curchorem.
18. Though Sesa Goa claims that the road alignment skirts the settlement areas, it is not true. The fact is that habitation at Panchawadi is scattered throughout the village and the dust generated due to truck transportation and loading & unloading of iron ore & other minerals at Panchawadi will definitely affect the habitation & vegetation within 100meters to 5000meters. Studies have proved & various committees are on record that the mineral dust generated affects 5Kms radius in the surroundings. Along the 11Kms road (Codli to Panchawadi) @ 5Km radius entire vegetation, Moisal dam & habitation will be affected due to dust pollution. The proposed roadside green barrier comprising of tall trees in no way will be able to cover & control dust along 11Kms road & Bunder project at Panchawadi.
19. Proposed road from Codli to Bunder Project at Panchawadi passes through Codli, Camarcond, Moisal & Panchawadi. And to our great surprise the proposed road area from Codli-Camarcond-Moisal is dropped by GoG and the road is only in Panchawadi village. This proves the back door entry of Sesa Goa to acquire land only from Panchawadi with the sole purpose of waiving off the Tenancy Rights in the 35 hectares land already purchased by Sesa Goa Ltd.
20. When the road from Codli to Panchawadi border is dropped, how ore from Codli mine of Sesa Goa will come to Panchawadi? This it self is a million dollar question. This project is a mirage shown to the Hon High Court by GoG & Sesa Goa at the cost of green zone of Panchawadi.
21. Private vehicles other then mining have got no business to do on this proposed road as this road starts from Codli mine of Sesa Goa and ends at the proposed Bunder on the banks of River Zuari. Presently there are various ways to reach Panchawadi from Codli via Dharbandora, Dabal, Shiroda, Camarconda, Moisal & Sanvordem. This road will be only solution to commit suicide as the road ends on the bank of river Zuari. The capacity of this 7 meter wide tar road with bituminous carpet as per agreement will not be sufficient for Sesa Goa’s own traffic which is 20 million tonnes in 2010 & planned further to increase 5times of the same in years to come, forget charging cess from other companies.
22. During the RP20-21 Gramsabha it was unanimously resolved to scrap Sesa Goa mining road in the RP20-21. Accordingly Panchayat has written to the Authority to scrap the road.
23. Panchawadi is in the Green Zone & there is no question of any mining activity or any other industrial activity coming in the village. Panchawadi is a unique village in the entire State of Goa, as it is endowed with about 100 Has of Mangrove forests and khazans, 200 Has of Command area served by a dedicated dam at Moissal, large forests, unending cashew plantations, vast paddy fields & innumerable high yielding coconut plantations. There is no doubt that this village is among the greenest villages in the entire State, which by itself should be enough reason not to allow its destruction. There is no doubt that the mining company's intentions are not only against the interests of the villagers, but are also extremely dangerous to the ecological balance of the entire State.
24. Apart from irrigation the water from Moisal dam is also used for domestic use (drinking) in Village Panchawadi. Presently there are complains from public regarding purification. The mining roads (a) Codli to Panchawadi for Sesa Goa & (b) Uguem-Guddemol-Capxem Bypass passing by the side of Moisal Dam will deteriorate the situation. CRZ regulations are applicable to the Bunder & Jetty points. Also the roads pass through the reserved forests. In view of this Environmental clearance cannot be given to such a Bunder project & mining roads.
25. People learn out of experiences & by visualizing the happenings in their surroundings. The menace of dust & noise pollution due to mining & allied activities is roaring all over Goa & the leading dailies are highlighting the same. The health hazards, accidents, traffic jams & destruction of environment & ecology are only endangering the life of residents in the vicinity. Panchawadi will not be excluded in the near future to come.
26. The villagers of Panchawadi therefore reiterate their demand that the proposed mining activities in Panchawadi be completely dropped, and also declare that under no circumstances shall we allow the nefarious plans of the mining company to succeed. We also advise officials, politicians, reporters and others to accept the reality that we shall never allow this ill-conceived project to materialize.
27. If GoG really interested to know the factual position let GoG officers meet the prominent people, not the politicians or those influenced by politicians, the highly educated & qualified residents, the hard workers, the dependents on the paddy cultivation, fishing & other agriculture, the land owners, the Church, the Devasthans and in particular the Poor people. Take the opinion poll of each household of affected area.
28. We suggest GoG to revive the plans; meet the residents in the vicinity & other commuters on these roads, the land owners, tenants, caretakers & other interested parties whose lands are being acquired by GoG in the name of public purpose. The Constitutional Rights given to its Citizens by Indian Constitution have no meaning in this world. Residents of Panchawadi, the Church & the Devasthans pray god to save life of residents of Panchawadi, Sanvordem, Curchorem & surroundings from these ill conceived plans of Sesa Goa.