Tuesday 14 November 2017

Exclude Goa’s six rivers from National Waterways of India Act now!

Date: 14th November 2017

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM) strongly protests comments over the past one week with serious implications to Goa’s rivers and fishermen at large.

India’s Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari was reported in media on 8th November 2017 to have passed several such comments we denounce:
1.     Gadkari said “Opposition to Coal transportation in Goa could be politically motivated”. Opposition to Coal is led by fishermen and is motivated by instincts of survival and livelihood. If Mr. Gadkari needs to know then he must come and meet fishermen directly in Vasco instead of five star hotel in Benaulim.
2.     Gadkari“Directed MPT to ascertain facts of Coal Pollution in Vasco”. Three Public Hearings lasting over a week has all the facts including public testimonies of affected people.
3.     Gadkari said “Due to Competitive International Market Capital dredging of 18 meters depth is a must. MoEF will be approached to obtain Environmental Clearance.” The capital dredging was stopped through litigations at NGT and Supreme Court. Should Goa’s fishermen, rivers and Arabian Sea be allowed to face ecological hazards from capital dredging because of competitive international market? Can economy prosper when ecology is forcibly destroyed?
4.     Gadkari said “On rivers, centre is funding riverfront development that includes dredging.” Dredging is proved to have caused ecological damage and MPT was stopped from carrying on the same few months ago. Now centre is funding river destruction project in Goa?
5.     Gadkari said “Utilization of State rivers could further boost tourism in the state as hotels could consider transporting tourists though waterways.” Mr. Gadkari has interest of tourism and hotels closer to his heart. Not at the cost of Goans and their sentiments. Mr. Gadkari is insensitive to fishermen and ignores constitutional provisions under Article 48-A and Article 51-A(g).
6.     Gadkari said “Sanctioned funds though Sagarmala program for infrastructure projects on riverfronts.” Without ascertaining ecological impact funds are sanctioned for Sagarmala. This is a bad governance.
7.     Gadkari said “Ferry service from Dabolim to Hotels directly”. This not only will impact fishing in rivers but also large number of people who are using taxi cars in tourism business.
8.     Gadkari said “Plans to make Ports in Country Green Ports”. If this is genuine then why persist in black Port at MPT.
9.     Gadkari said “Special Economic Zones would be set up at some Ports”. People of Goa has fought it tall, and it continues.

India’s Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Harsh Vardhan was reported in media on 10th November 2017 to have refused to comment on pollution caused by Coal in Vasco at MPT. This is really tragic; India’s environment Minister shying away from commenting on matters of pollution pertaining to his ministry. He advocated Scientific Social Responsibility and ignored Ministerial Social Responsibility.

Goa’s Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was reported in media to have passed various objectionable comments.
1.     On 8th November 2017 “If the Coal really becomes a pollutant then we have to stop it.” Goa Chief Minister still has not realized that Coal has already created Public Health emergency in Vasco city and ecological crisis in Arabian Sea and Zuari river. More he chooses to ignore this three decade old menace more angry people of Goa will turn leading to unexpected consequences.
2.     On 11th November 2017 he is reported to have said “People will be taken into confidence on river nationalization MoUs”. Why people of Goa were not taken in confidence before inclusion of Goa’s rivers in a Schedule to National Waterways of India Act 2016?. Why the permission agreement of Goa government with Central government is kept secret document? It is very sad to know this very fact of Mr. Parrikar that what he speaks he never abides with, he always does the opposite. And it all goes in his personal interest and not in the interest of public.

BMM calls upon Government of India to amend The National Waterways of India Act 2016 to exclude Goa’s six rivers from the Schedule immediately. 

Thursday 9 November 2017

Objections to declaration of Goa rivers as National Waterways

Date: 9th November 2017

Her Excellency,
Governor of Goa,
Raj Bhavan, Cabo,
Dona Paula, Goa

The Chief Minister
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

The Leader of the Opposition,
Goa Legislative Assembly,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa.

The Minister of Fisheries,
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

The Minister of Ports
Government of Goa,
Porvorim, Goa

The Minister of Tribal Affairs,
Government of Goa,
Porvorim, Goa

The Secretary (Ports)
Secretariat, Porvorim,

The Secretary (Fisheries)
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

The Director,
Directorate of Fisheries,
Panjim, Goa

Captain of Ports
Panjim, Goa

The Collector (South Goa)
Margao, Goa

The Collector (North Goa)
Panjim, Goa

The Chairman,
Mormugao Port Trust,
Headland Sada, Goa
403 804

The Chairman
Inland Waterways Authority of India
A-13, Sector 1, NOIDA – 201301,
Uttar Pradesh

The Principal Secretary
(Environment and Forest)
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

The Chief Secretary,
Government of Goa,
Porvorim, Goa

Francisco Silveira,
St. Andre constituency

Antonio Caetano Fernandes
Santa Cruz Constituency

Smt. Jennifer A. Monserrate,
Taleigao Constituency

The Sarpanch,
Bambolim-Curca-Nauxim Panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Siridao village Panchayat

The Sarpanch,
Agassaim village Panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Taleigao village Panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Cortalim village Panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Borim Panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Madkai panchayat,

The Sarpanch,
Chicalim Panchayat

Subject: Objections to declaration of Goa rivers as National Waterways

Sir/ Madam
1.      We write to you as a voice of Goa’s rivers declared as National Waterways by an Act of Indian Parliament and published on gazette of India on 26th March 2016 as “The National Waterways of India Act, 2016” (henceforth referred as “2016 Act”) without consulting People of Goa thereby constituting deceitful aggression of Goa’s rivers and those dependent upon them both directly and indirectly.
2.      We object to Section 3 of the above cited Act that states: “It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the Union should take under its control the regulation and development of the waterways specified in the Schedule for the purposes of shipping and navigation to the extend provided in the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985.”
3.      Goa’s six rivers figure in the schedule cited above at point no. 2. They are:
a.       National Waterway 25: Chapora River, from Maneri to Arabian Sea near Morjim
b.      National Waterway 27: Cumberjua River, from Cortalim Ferry terminal to Cumbherjua-Mandovi river confluence near Sao Mathias
c.       National Highway 68: Mandovi River, from Bridge at Usgao to Mandovi confluence with Arabian Sea at Reis Mangos
d.      National Waterway 71: Mapusa/Moide River, from the Bridge on NH – 17 at Mapusa to confluence point of Mapusa and Mandovi rivers at Porvorim.
e.       National Waterway 88: Sal River, from Orlim Deusa Bridge to confluence with Arabian Sea at Mobor.
f.       National Waterway 111: Zuari river, from Sanvordem Bridge to Marmugao Port.
4.      We object to inclusion of all the above six rivers cited at point 3 to be governed under the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985 (henceforth referred as 1985 Act) for the following reasons:
a.      Section (2) (h) of 1985 Act provides sweeping powers to Government of India “If Parliament declares by law any other waterway to be a national waterway, then from the date on which such declaration takes effect, such other water waterway (i) shall be deemed also a national waterway within the meaning of this clause” . Lord Atkins had warned long time ago “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
b.      Section 3: “Constitution and incorporation of the Inland Waterways Authority of India”. Goa’s rivers are now under the control of this Authority.
c.       Section 10: “In discharge of its functions under this Act, the Authority shall act, as far as may be on business principles.” This sharply compromises comprehensive defense of rivers as ecological health of rivers is jeopardized. Profits at the cost of rivers.
d.      Section 14 (1)(a): “carry out surveys and investigations for the development, maintenance and better utilization of the national waterways and the appurtenant land for shipping and navigation and prepare schemes in this behalf;” This is one of the functions of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) pertaining to use of rivers and attached lands for shipping and navigation. Fishing has no place under the 1985 Act.
e.       Section 2(a): “appurtenant land” means all lands appurtenant to a national waterway, whether demarcated or not. This means all the land attached to six rivers of Goa listed above as point 3 are under de facto control of IWAI. There is no limit in 1985 Act on how much land attached to rivers is in de facto control of IWAI.
f.       Section 14(b): The Authority may provide or permit setting up of infrastructural facilities for national waterways.
g.       Section 2(f): “infrastructure” includes structures such as docks, wharves, jetties, handing stages, locks, buoys, inland ports, cargo handling equipment, road and rail access and cargo storage spaces, and the expression “infrastructure facilities” shall be construed accordingly;
h.      Section 14(c): “The Authority may carry out conservancy measures and training works and do all other acts necessary for the safety and convenience of shipping and navigation and improvement of the national waterways”.
i.        Section 2(d): “Conservancy” includes dredging, training, diversion, or abandoning channels; Dredging is already proved to damage ecology in case of MPT dredging and on those grounds dredging was ordered to be stooped by NGT.
j.        Section 14(1)(e): “The Authority may remove or alter any obstructions or impediment in national waterways and the appurtenant land which may impede the safe navigation or endanger safety of infrastructural facilities or conservancy measures where such obstruction or impediment has been lawfully made or has become lawful by reason of long continuance of such obstruction or  impediment or otherwise, after making compensation to person suffering damage by such removal or alteration.” With this provision all the houses of people adjacent to six rivers can be easily demolished.
k.      Section 25: “Power of the Central Government to issue directions”. This is mockery of democracy and decentralization.
l.        Section 25 (2): “The decision of the Central Government whether a question is of policy or not shall be final”. This is dictatorship.
m.    Section 26: “Compulsory acquisition of land for the Authority. – Any land required by the Authority for discharging its functions under this Act shall be deemed to be needed for a public purpose and such land may be acquired for the Authority under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 or any other corresponding law for the time being in force.” One more institution for land grab under the garb of Public Interest.
n.      Section 28: Any person authorized by the Authority in this behalf, may, whenever it is necessary so to do so for any of the purposes of this Act, at all reasonable times, enter upon any land or premises.
o.      Section 32 (2): “No suit or other proceedings shall lie against the Authority for any damage caused or likely to be caused by anything in good faith done or purported to be done under this Act or the rules or regulations, and in particular, it shall not be the responsibility of the Authority to provide for relief measures necessitated by floods or by breaches and failures of works.”
p.      Section 35 (2) (j): “the exclusion from a national waterway of disorderly or other undesirable persons and of trespassers;” Fishermen can be easily arrested using this provision.
5.      At October 24-25, 2016 meeting of National Appraisal Committee “M/s National Waterways Authority of India proposed for development of stretch of Mandovi River (NW-68, 41 km), Zuari River (NW-111, 55 km) and Cumberjua Canal (NW-27 km). Project Proponents informed currently 228 barges are plying Goa waterways and highest capacity barge is 2500 T. initial dredging for maintaining 3.2 m LAD will be sufficient for enabling the vessels to ply round the year. Total dredging quantity will be about 3 Mm³. Dredging in these stretches to be disposed off beyond the disposal area of Mormugao Port Trust towards Seaside.” This means NWAI is taking ahead interests of barges. Barges are owned by private parties transporting ore and are known historically to destroy Goa’s ecology. 2016 Act and 1985 Act are functioning to support Goa’s ecological criminals. This is ridiculous and unacceptable.
6.      The reputation of barges with regard to rivers in Goa is notorious. As per the minutes of the first meeting Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) held on October 05, 1988 three issues has been kept for special attention of the Board. They are as under:
a.       “Pollution of Inland waterways by movement of barges and other vessels.” This means what is already notorious form of navigation in Goa i.e the barges are further being given impetus by NWAI. These barges transport ore extracted from mining of Goa’s mountains and plains which has created equally ghastly damage for ecology and officially noted as under point (b).
b.      “Mining industry being major polluting industry in Goa”. In order to solve this problem GSPCB has following note mentioned below in point (c)
c.       “Education of masses on the aspect of prevention of pollution”. Prevention of pollution as we realize can take place by banning barge transportation though rivers and banning mining in the State of Goa. Inclusion of Goa’s rivers as National Waterways is truly unfortunate and disastrous for the rivers, fish, and fishermen, and mass of people of Goa who are dependent upon fish for daily staple of food.
7.      Declaration of Goa’s rivers as National Waterways is certain death for rivers of Goa and those who will mourn the loss and not just people but also Goa’s majestic mountains as rivers origin in mountain and proceed towards Arabian Sea supporting innumerable life in between. What the Indian Parliament done by passing 2016 Act is very sad and anti-life. We would like to quote from Habacuc 3:10 “The mountain saw thee, and were grieved: the great body of waters passed away” .We stand in defense of rivers in most intimate manner and Maori declaration as our own for each of Goa’s rivers is great for us: “The Great River flows from the mountain to the sea. I am the River and River is me”.
8.      We want to bring to your attention that exactly similar treatment were given to Whanganui River and Indigenous People known as Maoris in New Zealand from 1840 onwards. River was used by white settlers as “highway” for navigation and activities of Maoris were greatly restricted. Maoris never accepted this and fought back for 177 years covering many generations. As a result of the struggle New Zealand Parliament enacted a law in March 2017 known as Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017. In the sections 69 of this law there is clear acknowledgement from the Crown for all the damage done to the Whanaganui River even as Maoris refused to relinquish their rights to the Crown. Similar situation has come upon people of Goa and we too refuse to relinquish rights over Goa’s rivers to the Indian Parliament usurped in colonial style via 2016 Act. Indian Government is all out to damage Goa’s rivers and people, just the way White Colonialists damaged Whanaganui river and Maoris of New Zealand. In the same New Zealand law via section 70 Crown apologized and sought to atone for its past wrongs. Indian Government is embarking on committing such wrongs against Goa’s Rivers and People.
9.      We noted that there are two drafts Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) available under RTI from Captain of Ports and one finalized MoU. All the three MoUs are highly objectionable as expected consequences are to dredge Goa’s rivers, take over land, disrupt fishing occupations, and deplete fish catch excessive control over Goa’s riparian areas as well as rivers with Inland Waterways Authority of India located at Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
a.       Draft MoU between Captain of Ports (CoP) and IWAI dredging of 180 kms in Six rivers with Environment, Forest and local issues to be addressed by IWAI. Land Acquisition will be the responsibility of IWAI. In other words Goa will be administered from Noida in Uttar Pradesh. This is Colonial mode of development based on exploitation of nature and people and needs immediate dismantling.
b.      Draft MoU between  IWAI, Government of Goa (GoG), Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) states that
                                                              i.      CoP represents Goa State while MPT is functioning under Ministry of Shipping, Central Government.
                                                            ii.       Article 1.1 (a) (i) notes “Fairway development of 182 kms stretch which includes dredging, river training works, bank protection”.
                                                          iii.      Article 3.1 (iii): “CoP will also be paid service charges @2% of the awarded cost of the Project work for obtaining all necessary clearances from different departments, preparing EIA, acquiring land for the work rendered to the development of a project etc.
                                                          iv.      Article 3.2 GoG responsibilities:
1.      Administration of rules and regulations under IWAI Act 1985
2.      Ensure safety and security of waterways
3.      Identify projects for implementation in consultation with the IWAI
4.      Facilitate the project executing agency (MPT) to obtain all statutory clearances
5.      Land acquisition as and when required for any development work on said NWs
6.      Remove any encroachments on the banks of waterways
7.      7. Facilitate last mile connectivity from the National Waterways for seamless movement of good and passengers.
8.      CoP department will identify and propose the various development projects to be carried out in the rivers and the same will be financed by IWAI and executed by MPT taking into consideration the Technical/ Financial/ Environmental/ Public Sensitivities of the State into account.
9.      Ensure unrestricted development and utilization of National Waterways by regulating the existing fishing activities carried through stake net fishing, barrier net, River gill, river cages, and fishing by any registered gear. Views of local fishermen area shall however be taken into consideration before finalization of a site for development by CoP and IWAI.
10.  Before finalization, i.e work of a construction, dredging of river, training wall construction bund, necessary EIA if applicable shall be carried out and the effect on the ecology and other organisms shall be disclosed before tendering the work. The expenses for conducting the EIA will be funded by IWAI. Whom it will be disclosed not mentioned. No provision for Public Hearing.
11.  Exigency work related to the security, safety of navigation, environment protection, and matters of public interest which require immediate attention will be attended to by the CoP and IWAI will be informed subsequently.
The above responsibilities of Goa government are a recipe for all round ruin of Goa. Dredging and regulation of Fishermen are the most dangerous provisions and guarantees elimination of fishing occupations in Goa.
                                                            v.      Article 3.4 (i): Land acquisition shall be the responsibility of the GoG. All Environment, Forest, local issues shall be addressed by IWAI, GoG and MPT jointly.
                                                          vi.      Article 7.5 “IWAI will provide the full funding for providing any facility like Hydrographic survey, EIA, Dredging, river training, Aids to Navigation including channel making, Construction / up gradation of terminals and Jetties.”
                                                        vii.      So here we have IWAI willing to put money to transform Goa into a graveyard.
c.       Finalized MoU between  IWAI and MPT:
                                                              i.      Signed without public consultations in Goa
                                                            ii.      Signed on 28th September 2016
                                                          iii.      Signed between MPT Chairman I. Jeyakumar, IRTS and IWAI member (traffic)  Shrikant Mahiyaria, IRTS
                                                          iv.      Signed for Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Cumbharjua, Mapusa and Sal rivers
                                                            v.      Article 1.1 (a):
1.      (i) “Fairway of 182 kms stretch which includes dredging, river training works, bank protection etc.”
2.      (ii) “Terminal construction with cargo handling facilities, off-shore structures and related infrastructure.”
                                                          vi.      Responsibilities of MPT: Article 2.1
1.      “Dredging works”
2.      “ bank protection”
3.      “Development, planning, & designing of IWT terminals”
4.       “Support for safe movement of Cargo Vessels”
The above four points means total control of Goa’s rivers and river banks by MPT that is functioning under Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. This is a direct contrast to statehood, contrast to Panchayat Raj and contrast of every democratic norm. Final disruption of fishing occupations in rivers will be carried on by MPT.
                                                        vii.      Joint responsibilities of MPT and IWAI: Article 2(3) (i):
1.      “Getting necessary clearances / approvals from concerned ministries and central/ state Govt. for execution of development works.
2.      All environment, forest, local issues shall be addressed by IWAI and MPT jointly.
3.      Land acquisition shall be the responsibility of IWAI.”
Fishing occupation will suffer as revealed from above three points. There is no sensitivity to fishermen in this entire signd MoU.
BMM calls for exclusion of Goa’s six rivers from the Schedule of National Waterways of India Act 2016 immediately. Or else our generations currently and in future will have to fight like Maori generations fought and narrated in this letter at point 8.
BMM calls upon you to attend to this issue and be a voice to Goa’s threatened rivers and consequently threatened people. Kindly forward this letter to the higher authority.
Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has commented in press on 08/11/2017 that Goa’s rivers that are declared as National Waterways will be dredged. This is exactly we are against as dredging has proved to create enormous ecological harm at MPT late 2016 and early 2017 before NGT stopped it on complaints from Fishermen organizations. His approach is death blow to fish movement and fish breeding grounds in Goa. Opening up rivers for navigation for Cargo and tourism including eco-tourism will severely disrupt fishing activities in Goa and people of Goa will not tolerate.
You are therefore requested to take appropriate steps to make sure that our views are presented effectively to the Central Government failing which there could be major repercussions including social, political and economic unrest. People in Goa take fish, curry and rice as staple diet and currently Goa government along with corporate interests has targeted all three pushed people towards desperation. Rice cultivation suffered due to land conversions from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes to benefit real estate, industry and mining, Curry is costly as coconut trees are chopped down to make way to multi storied buildings and star hotels. The remaining coconut trees yield has drastically lowered as mobile towers mushrooms and radiation has become widespread. Fish is being robbed from our plates through declaration of Goa’s rivers as National Waterways.
We are sure that you too will contribute towards comprehensive defense of our Rivers and object to the declaration of Goa’s rivers as National Waterways, exclude Goa’s rivers as National Waterways and nullify all the MoUs in this regard.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Maggie Silveira,
President, Goa State

Sanjay Pereira
Convener, Cacra unit  

Rohidas Andrade
Convener, Bambolim unit

Socorro Braganza
Convener, Siridao Unit

Anthony Cardozo
Convener, Curca Unit

Sitaram Pereira
Convener, Odxel Unit

Milind Palkar
Convener, Nauxi unit

Ms. Kalpana Diukar
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Chandrakant Lotlikar
Secretary, Siridao Unit

Hanuman Dias
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Honu Divkar,
Co-convener,Odxel Unit

Deu Kankonkar
Secretary, Nauxi Unit

Yeshwant Shirvoikar,
Co-convener,Odxel Unit

Manguesh Sawant,
Co-convener, Odxel unit

Amir Mardolkar,
Co-convener,Nauxim Unit

Francis Coelho,
Co-convener,Nauxim Unit

Ms. Jaya Kuttikar
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Dulba Pereira,
Co-convener,Cacra Unit

Jonu Shirvoikar,
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Santosh Gauns,
Co-convener,Cacra Unit 

Ms. Sheila D’mello,
Co-convener, Cacra Unit

Vijay Sawant,
Co-convener, Cacra Unit

Ashok Kukalkar
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Ganashyam Diukar
Co-convenor, Odxel Unit

Mahadev Andre Rosario
Co-convenor, Nauxim Unit