Friday 5 May 2023

Voice of Caurem People

Goa's ecology benefitted greatly after mining in Goa was stopped from 2012. Over the past few years however some miners are at work to resume the ugly mining yet again. Let's look at Caurem village in Goa's Quepem Taluka.

Goa Government had called for the Public Hearing on April 11, 2023 and its suddenly called off. One mining company had proposed to mine beautiful Forest land on top of Zamblidadga mountain to extract Iron ore and Manganese. To oppose this plan Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) moved Goa Bench of Bombay High Court calling for enforcement of Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Public Hearing was fixed to be held in Quepem's Maina village as part of consultative process required by law. According to the Terms of Reference issued by the State Government mining company is required to hold mandatory Public Hearing before starting of any activity of excavation on ground.

People has stacked their claims over this Forest land with concerned government offices six years ago.

To deliberate this issue Caurem Gram Sabha meeting passed two unanimous resolutions. First, the survey number 19 be brought under the purview of Forest Rights Act. Second, Forest land in this survey number should not be diverted for any mining or industrial projects.

Miner Pradnya Zoivont Pai Kano has prepared 768 page draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report under Environment Protection Act 1986 to put before public. According to this report depth of the proposed mine will go upto 173 meters deep in ground to extract minerals. Water found in the ground is permitted by Water Resources Department to be pumped out and sold at the rate of 720,000 litres per day. Further this extracted water is permitted to be transported through GPS attached water tankers. Who benefits here?

We know that for the past 22 years Pissurlem farmers are asking for supply of water stocked in their village mining pits to be supplied to cultivate paddy fields. State Government has put all these demands on deaf ear while it has permitted miners in Caurem to extract and sell water. Is this correct?

Draft EIA report notes that Caurem mine when it starts will provide employment for 52 people. According to individual Forest Rights claims filed with State Authorities 149 families are dependent upon this Forest land for their livelihood in the form of Cashew and allied activities. If each family is assumed to be consisting of 04 people then total number of people depending on this forest land for their livelihoods is 496. So in order to create employment for 52 people through mining employment of 496 people will be stopped. What Justice is this?

Goa's mining history is 94 years old. First mining lease was granted in 1929. Few people accumulated huge wealth from mining in Goa. This has led to frightening impacts on society and ecology of Goa. In this context will the voice of Caurem people be the beacon of Hope?

Seby Rodrigues

Konkani version of this article was published in daily oHeraldo published from Panjim, Goa on Sunday, April 23, 2023.

Click here to access the Konkani version. 

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