21st August 2017
This is to strongly condemn the Ministry of Environment and Forest and government of Goa for attempting to deny Goans access to justice by transforming NGT jurisdiction over Goa from Pune to Delhi. By a recent MOEF notification dated 10th August, Goa has been singled out as the only State in the country whose residents need to go far away to Delhi for Environmental justice, while the residents of other parts of the country are provided access at t he closest place possible.
We represent over 37 organizations from across Goa that came together yesterday to deliberate upon the shocking act of MOEF and to decide a course of action to obtain speedy relief to all Goans. We find that the present Government is progressively taking away all the rights of Goa as a State and that we are increasingly being treated as a colony of Delhi. Though our Prime Minister spoke about “co-operative federalism” in his Independence Day speech a few days ago, this discriminatory action of MOEF shows the reality to be quite the opposite - that Goa is treated as a foreign colony by our Government.
Goa is facing unprecedented and unparalleled destruction of Environment and displacement of local communities. As a result, Goa has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of cases before the NGT as compared with other states. Common Goans are forced to go to NGT to defend their villages and future generations, flooding NGT Pune with matters from Goa. As demonstrated by NGT orders in various matters such as illegal dredging by MPT, the State and Union Government are hand-in-gloves with the private interests destroying Goa and her environment for short term greed. NGT, Pune is now become the last resort of Goans in their struggles to defend their lands and communities. However, the MOEF and Goa Governments have shown malafide intention to deny access to the NGT, since ordinary Goans cannot afford the cost or the time needed to approach NGT, Delhi.
The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay at Goa has taken sou moto cognisance of the MOEF Notification this morning and stayed its operation till 5th September 2017, and we thank the Hon’ble Court profusely for this interim relief. However, the threat to the people from the Government’s malafide intentions must see reason and not only restore the jurisdiction of Pune bench of the NGT over Goan matters, but also correct their attitude towards the people, the environment and the future generations, failing which the people will be forced to remain in a state of war against the destructive forces unleashed upon us.