Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Eco-hostile Resolution on Goa Mining


The resolution taken unanimously passed by Goa Legislative Assembly on August 03, 2018 strongly recommending re-starting of mining in Goa is completely eco-hostile act on behalf of all elective representatives in House. However this is no shocker. Mining companies of Goa are known to be funding State and National Political Parties both ruling and opposition, their MLAs are therefore obliged to push ahead the agenda of the mining corporate. Plus several MLAs of Goa are direct and indirect beneficiaries of mining industry with open and covert business links.

Curtorim MLA Reginald Lorenco who had raised public hopes with some dissent to mining, gave in. Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha who is amongst the most sensitive and skilled having worked with late Mathany Saldanha and functioned as Goa’s Minister for Environment and Forest has betrayed for trees has no votes. Tribal Affairs Minister and Priol MLA Govind Gawde did not bother to have deeper look at the tribal communities’ expression of grievances arising from ecological damage caused by mining industry in Sonshi and Colomba. Their votes signified their co-option to the exploitative system in place.

The resolution to re-start mining in Goa completely exclude any mention to the ecological damage that mining has already caused: amount of water pumped out daily depleting ground water table, amount of forest land diverted for mining purpose, amount of trees cut down or buried alive under mining dumps, the intensity of pollution caused to the paddy fields and rivers.

On the contrary we have witnessed highly objectionable comments from the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who is also Goa’s environment Minister “Just on ground of environmental damage, is it right to stop mining activity?” Goa’s environment Minister has a mindset that is in needs of immediate correction. Can economy flourish by damaging environment? The very first meeting of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) minutes records that mining is biggest environmental pollution in Goa and barges transporting iron ore causes environmental pollution to Goa’s rivers, and massive public awareness is the need of the hour. When mining has caused such a high level of damage to Goa is it not the duty of the State government to stop mining forever and move people away from dependency on mining?

A month ago Indian Government’s Niti Ayog published study that warned of increasing shortage of fresh water in India. All water pumped out to extract ore in Goa is fresh water. Do any of the MLAs in Goa Legislative Assembly has data on how much ground water is pumped out from the legal and illegal mining pits in Goa ever since mechanization of mining in the decade of 1970s? Do they have information as to how many water bodies like wells in Sirgao has gone dry because of pumping out of ground water from mining pits? Do they have any data on how much of agriculture has been damaged due to flow of mining silt into paddy fields in Sattari, Bicholim, Ponda, Sanguem and Darbandora Talukas? How much unemployment and food insecurity has this created since 1970? It appears from the resolution that MLAs are only elected representatives lack moral courage and vulnerable to swings of cash and bullying.

Latest advertisements in Delhi Print media claim that mining in Goa is sustainable and eco-friendly. The extracted ore has reached shores of China, Japan, Pakistan and other countries as per records published by Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association and Goa’s ore is sustaining these foreign countries. From 1945 Goa’s ore export has contributed immensely in resurrecting Japanese economy shattered by nuclear bombings. From 2000 Goa’s major share of exports went of China. Goa’s exports sustained Japanese and Chinese economies. How mining has sustained Goa’s ecology?

In what way Goa’s mining is eco-friendly? Isn’t it repackaging of mineral farming concept? On the contrary very first minutes of GSPCB proves that mining is an eco-hostile industry causing irreversible damage to Forest, Agriculture, Horticulture and Rivers.

Former Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane, Poriem MLA is worst of all for his claims of not being aware of ecological damage due to mining. He must visit Pissurlem, Sirgao, Cavrem, Bicholim, Lamgao, Colomba, Advalpal, Honda, Sonshi and meet people who are staying and are at the receiving end of the mining industry.

The resolution to re-start mining by modifying Central Government mining laws is eco-hostile decision that will inevitably lead to Goa’s ecocide.

Sebastiao Rodrigues

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