Threat to entire State of Goa
Sebastian Rdorigues, October 2011
It is not just specific villages where mining is going on that are very badly affected and even displaced but the entire state of Goa is under threat. The threat is principally because water supply comes from eastern part of Goa that is mountainous Western Ghats region. Goa’s major water supply source is Selaulim dam in Sanguem taluka but mining of mountains close by its catchment area, inside catchment area and even inside Selaulim dam has caused threat to Goa’s water supply. Selaulim water dam supplies water to the cities of Vasco, Margao and other places covers over 50% of the population. Mining is reckless and unabated and goes on right under the supervision of Goa’s Chief minister bamon Digambar Kamat who has been holding mining portfolio for nearly 12 years in various governments. With mining Goa’s natural topography is completely disfigured. Goa’s Water Resources minister Felipe Neri Rodrigues even accepted the pollution of Selaulim dam because of mining in his interview published in Times of India on 9th August 2011. He covered up mining industry by claiming that his department engineers thought pollution was normal!
After Selaulim dam in Sanguem next major water supply dam is in Ponda taluka. It is known as Opa Water Works. Here against several mines are in operation and Opa river remains polluted. Goa government is yet to shut down all the mines within the catchment areas of both these dams.
Assanora water works in Bardez is another important water augmenting plant that supplies water to north Goa. This too is being threatened due to mining in the village of Advapal in Bicholim.
Rivers that flow into Arabian Sea all originate in the Western Ghats Mountains. Because of mining activities rivers are getting polluted and silted. Marine life that used to sustain communities on the banks of rivers is drastically reduced. Bicholim river, Mandovi river, zuari river, Kushavati river, Valvanti river, Chapora river, Assanora river are some of the example of rivers threatened due to mining.
Goa has total length of 105 kms from North to South of Goa. Mining leases are prevalent for almost 95 kms of length from North to South of Goa. This is creating vertical split between Eastern Goa and Western Goa.
Western Ghats Mountains are rich in minerals, rich in trees, rich in fauna like tiger, rich habitat of people especially tribal people. Mining companies are attempting to mine entire forest lands. This is the case of Sattari, Sanguem, Quepem, Canacona, Pernem, Dabandora and Ponda talukas. Final notified Goa Regional Plan 2011 demarcated 39,170 hectares of land for mining purpose. This plan was shelved due to public protests.
The holistic picture of mining the way it is going on was captured in the following protests leaflet of November 2008 issued by GGRM, GAKUVED and GOAMAP:
Stop Mining Terrorism In Goa!
Perhaps you are aware, perhaps you are not aware that mining posses formidable threat to the Goas’ survival. Yet it is true; mining has been terrorising Goa over the past five decades. People of Goa have tolerated this all this while but they can no longer do so. Hence we share this message with you so that you can take it far and wide as a friend and well wisher of Goa and its People.
Due to rampant exports of iron ore to many countries in the World including China and Japan due to demand for steel, our villages in hinterlands – in the talukas of Bicholim, Sattari, Sanguem and Quepem – are facing terror attacks of the mining industry that is largely supported by the government in Power. The Goas’ monstrous mining industry that took birth in the womb of Portuguese Colonialism has only flourished after Goa’s liberation and integration with India. Today it constitutes Goa’s number one enemy that is destroying our water bodies every day. Our majestic green mountains of Western Ghats are being chopped down for exports. Villages in the mining belt are becoming increasing thirsty for water and ironically depending upon the very industry to quench their thirst. Pissurlem village in Sattari Taluka is only one example to this situation.
Mining has damaged agriculture – our paddy fields – and snatched food from our plates. It has silted our rivers so badly that fish no longer spawns, Kushavati river is only an example to this. Our villages are becoming increasing poorer while few mining companies are usurping entire profits. A coterie of people has evolved as contractors of the mining industry and providing their services for speedy destruction of Goa forever. Forever because none of them has ever created Single Mountain that they are robbing today from our future generations.
Our water supply stands badly threatened due to mining activities taking place in the catchment areas of Selaulim, Opa and Assanora Dams.
Our two main rivers are taken over by the mining industry for loading and transportation of ore. Mandovi has 37 loading points with 1500 trips of barges per year while Zuari has 20 loading points with 1800 trips per year. Trips are from loading point to Marmagao Harbour from where the ore is exported in giant ships. Several big open cast iron ore mines operate in the catchment areas on Mandovi and Zuari rivers leading to huge accumulation of silt. Each mine creates rejection between 1000 - 4000 tonnes!
Our protected Area forest too is targeted by the mining industry. After Supreme Court closed down nearly 150 large mines miners have gone to Supreme Court they are permitted to resume around 60 these mining leases. Goa has forest cover of 1224 sq. km in addition to 200 sq. km of private forest.
Number of protest has erupted in Goa today because of mining. However mining companies in collusion with State Police force is involved in beating up and arrests of the protestors in routine manner. Colamb, Advalpal, Cavrem, Sirgao, Pissurlem, Mayem, Usgao, Maina, Khola etc are some of the villages that has have rose to challenge mining industry and are constituting boiling points of directly affected Peoples’ Protests in Goa. Number of tribal villages too is directly at the receiving end of the mining invasion and has challenged the industry.
We request you to take the message out from Goa that mining industry is terrorizing Goa – its people and nature – and we want mining terrorism to stop and Goa to remain prosperous without mining.
Remember constitutes 0.11% of India’s land mass and involved in 35% of India’s iron ore export. We are doing this at the cost of our very survival as people and at the cost of our rivers and water bodies that are source of life. Mining is on project to transform Goa into desert wherein everyone will want to avoid this place forever. No tourism, No fisheries, No IIFI, No agriculture, lots of building with no water running in their taps, No longer green goa as mining converting Goa into bloody red, lots of fights over water and survival assets. Mining companies would have made their money by then- in fact they already have – and settled in Switzerland, France or other green pastures.
Yeah, it is good to know how much money Mining industry has already made over the past few years: In 2003-2004 total legal (there is a huge illegal export that goes unaccounted) iron ore export was 22,942 thousand tonnes fetching Rs.46,457 million. In 2004-2005 total legal iron ore export was 24,717 thousand tonnes earning Rs.61,174.575 million. In 2005-2006 total legal export was 25,314 thousand tonnes at the value of Rs.1,77,198 million.
In addition to this large number of Members of Goa Legislative Assembly (MLAs) has entered into mining business during the past 5 years. That has seriously eroded capacity of Goa legislature to even bother about ongoing mining terrorism.
With Goa’s mining companies earning such a huge income it is hard to explain as to why Goa needs to have deficit budgets. In 2003 budget deficit was 2,141.10 crore rupes, in 2004 it climbed up to 2,615.17 crore rupees, and in 2005 budget deficit short up to 3088.67 crore! It is all because mining industry is juicing out Goa in every possible way! With this earnings Goa would have been highly prosperous State. But it is all round loot of Goa at the behest of handful of Mining companies that Goa urgently has to get rid of.
Stop mining terrorism in Goa now!
It is actually a brahmanical terror against the mulnivasi people of Goa. Mining is a medium of terrorising. It is more than environmental issue. It is a well organised plot to end the life support systems of the Mulnivasi people by destroying nature in most brutal way possible through mining. Mining in Goa has taken the proportion of terror because of very small size o the State (Goa’s total area is 3702 square kilometres) and mining aggression is intense. As a result impact is quickly felt.