CAUREM ADIVASI BACHAO SAMITI
c/o. Nilesh Gaonkar,
Quepem taluka, Goa
REF NO. 02/10 Date: 25th November 2010
The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Goa,
Porvorim, Bardez taluka, Goa
Sub: Second Reminder regarding Site Inspection of illegal mining at Caurem, Quepem taluka at TC 01/51, Devapan Dongor mine
REF: 1) Our meeting with you on 19th August 2010 at your residential office
2) Our earlier letter to you dated 23rd September 2010
We, the members of the Caurem Adivasi Bachao Samiti, had met you in your office at your residence at Malbhat, Margao on 19th August 2010 at 0930 hrs in order to explain to you the devastation caused to our village and its residents by the subject mine, and to request you to stop the illegal mining operation immediately. You had promised that you would inspect our village and the effects of the mining jointly with us and that if there is any illegality, you would not allow the said mining to take place.
It is more than three months since you promised to inspect the mine. In the meanwhile, the rains are finished and the illegal mining has commenced in earnest. We are in a desperate situation, with the illegal mining rapidly destroying our village, our water resources and our forests. We had written a letter to you on 23rd September 2010 reminding you of your promise, but to no avail.
Please tell us what are we supposed to do, as we are being systematically destroyed along with our lands by the said illegal mining, while you, our Chief Minister, are ignoring our desperate pleas for over three months. The illegal mining conitnues unabated despite the representations made by the mining company that no mining is taking place in the said mine, and in contempt of the Bombay High Court Order dated 20th September 2010 implying that no mining activities are taking place, and in spite of the ample evidence available with the government departments regarding violations of law by the said mine.
The following facts are again brought to your notice as evidence of the illegality of the mining being carried out:
1. Destruction of ground water aquifers and springs: 'Devapan' literally translates as 'God's sacred grove', signifiying the exceptional significance of the life giving ecological wealth of this hill. This hill has some of the most exceptional aquifers in Goa and is the origin of numerous perennial springs, including major ones called 'Paikachi Zor', Khaspurus Zor', 'Talyepat Zor', 'Bulmeachi Zor', 'Khuteachi Zor Ghogho', 'Mestan Zor', 'Gaunkaran Zor', 'Vanvshan Zor' and 'Gallachi Zor'.The present mining pit has already gone deep into the ground much below the permitted levels, and has burst one water aquifer, thereby destroying its integrity, the water quality and quantity, which is serious violation of the conditions imposed by the Environmental Clearance. This has already caused significant reduction in the quantity and quality of water flowing from many of our springs. The last two of the springs named above are inside the active mining area, with the 'Gallachi Zor' being destroyed completely and the 'Vanvshan Zor' is surrounded by mining activities on all side, with the water being used for washing mining equipment. Every day, the mining activities continue to destroy the crucial sources of perennial water contained within the Devapan Dongor, which water is the lifeline of tens of thousands of families living in dozens of villages along the route of Karka rivulet, Kushawati River and the Zuari River. We are certain that if the mining activities are not stopped immediately, more compartments of this aquifer shall be compromised, causing total and irreversible destruction in our village and in other parts of Goa.
2. Destruction of nallahs and buffer zone: The subject mining lease includes three nallahs, which used to carry perennial waters to our fields for cultivation of second and third crops of paddy, sugarcane, chillis, vegetables and for horticulture until the mining activities commenced. The mining company has not only compromised the buffer zones of the nallahs, but has also destroyed the nallahs themselves, in blatant violation of the law.
3. Mining Operations without necessary permissions: The Consent to Operate for the said mine has expired on 1st January 2010, after which the mine has been operating illegally. During this period the mining company has excavated and transported huge quantities of ore illegally. As per the Orders of the Bombay High Court dated 20th September 2010 (copy attached), read with the submissions made by the Government Departments, the mine is not supposed to be in operation. During a Hearing held at the office of the Chairman of GSPCB on 19th November 2010, the representatives of the mining company also stated that no mining operations are taking place at the mine. However, the mining activities are continuing till date with impunity, with accelerated speed and urgency, proving the blatant lies and misrepresentations being made by the mining company.
4. Pollution of water and paddy fields: The illegal mining operations are causing havoc to the water and agriculture in our village, as confirmed by the Show Cause Notice issued by the Goa State Pollution Control Board on 22nd October 2010 and their Test Reports (copies attached). During the Hearing held at the office of the Chairman of the GSPCB on 19th November 2010, it was stated by the mining company representatives that the pump(s) in the mining pit are only for emergency purposes. However, the mining company continues to operate the pump illegally till date, and is thereby dumping large amounts of mud in the lands, rivers and paddy fields downstream of the mining pit and destroying them.
5. Forest Rights: The residents of Caurem village are scheduled tribe members and other forest dwellers. The attached copy of the Table no. 20, on page 100 of the “Survey Report on Scheduled Tribes of Goa” states that during the 2001 census, 699 tribal households were ennumerated in our village, which corroborates the actual number of more than 2000 tribal residents of our village. Our Traditional Rights over our Forest Lands, which includes the lands under this mining lease and lands contiguous with them, are now finally recognized by the Union Government under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The ongoing mining is undermining the objectives of this new enactment and is destroying our Rights before they are even verified by the Government, and is therefore in violation of this enactment. The Environmental Clearance is also based on the false data included in the Rapid EIA & Management Plan Report, which states that there do not exist any tribals in the 22 villages in the study area (copy of page 3.9 of the Report attached). This is abolutely false, since all these villages are predominantly populated by tribals, as verified also by the government data in the Table no. 20, on page 100 of the “Survey Report on Scheduled Tribes of Goa”, which is attached herewith. Secondly, we have not had a proper opportunity to have a Public Hearing as mandated under the EIA Notification, since majority of the villagers were not aware of the Hearing held on 28th April 2008. Thirdly, attached herewith is a copy of the unanimous Gram Sabha resolution dated 19th December 2007 resolving to stop the mining which was forced upon the villagers in spite of their opposition. This resolution also is evidence proving that the mining had started even before the so-called Public Hearing held on 28th April 2008, reducing the entire exercise to a farce.
6. Violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980: A large portion of the mining land includes forest lands, both private forest and government owned reserve forest. The mining activities are going on in the private forest area without any permissions.
We are willing to show you all the evidence regarding the above violations and the previous correspondence initiated by us with the various government departments.
We are again pleading with you to take this impending destruction extremely seriously, and hope that you shall not fail to keep your promise. If the mining is started again in our village before your inspection, we shall be forced to consider all options available to us in the face of the extermination of our tribal village.
encl: documents referred in the letter