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Fomentos flexes State power to bulldoze livelihoods with its mines in Sanguem
Posted by sebydesiolim on Thu 18 of Oct, 2007 16:08 IST

October 18, 2007

Hello!

Here are the minutes of a meeting called by Quepem Sub-divisional Magistrate to clear way for the Fomento mining group that operates mine in Colamb, Sanguem. This meeting gains significance as it demonstrates the power of the corporate to flex and get into motion the State administration for its private interest of mining of ore and gaining huge profits. Mining companies have been doing this over the past five decades and this is one more example as to demonstrate how deep is our quasi-judicial, judicial, executive, police, are co-opted and hell bent on destroying people’s livelihood of agriculture, destroy forests, convert forest areas into rice plantations and then use the forest lands as mining dumps, pollute and suck dry our natural water sources, silt flowing water bodies, mobilize scientific opinions and manufacture reports to repeat the story of three wise monkeys to say ‘here no truth, speak no truth and see no truth’, mining companies are the truth.

Magistrate discloses that he has powers only as far as maintaining law and order yet he goes on does something more suggests formation of CORE Committee that would composed of government representatives and three members vetted by the Rivona Panchayat whose elected members have deep rooted interests in the continuation mining and whole scale ruining of agriculture.

The government scientists that gave clean cheat to SDM are indeed an object of ridicule and betray even the common sense. Of course it is a common knowledge that scientists are rarely stick to their ethics and more often than not have betrayed the very people who through their taxes pays their salaries and these scientist have been indulging in complete unethical practices. They have done again while choosing soil samples and its testing.

One lawyer representing mining companies is quoted in the minutes as proudly declaring that mining lease has not been challenged for the past 5 decades. Perhaps as practice goes lawyers take the side of one who pays them; he shrewdly overlooks the facts that the lease was granted by the erstwhile Portuguese colonial State, and by overlooking this fact he shamefully celebrates imperialism. And why he should not all the mining companies have accumulated the huge surplus to divert their profits in wide range of business ventures including Cidade de Goa thanks to this mischief during the Portuguese Colonial era. He also overlooks the fact that judiciary has been dominated by the interests hostile to the people at the receiving end of mining tyranny. The demand for stopping of mines in Goa will not succeed in the Palaces that are full of scandals but this demand will succeed when discussed and debated in the people’s parliament – the streets where the affected people themselves are going to be the judges and not the professional lawyers that are sucking their clients at a mass scale. Our judiciary is blood sucking institution meant to tire out generate and intensify injustice through the rule of law that is also rule of the rich for the rich. The law is conceptualized, drafted, executed by the powerful sections of the society that does not what the sufferings are all about. The laws are formulated to further disempower common people and snatch their livelihoods and mining laws, Forest laws, pollution laws in Goa and India are excellent examples to this.

Through this order Fomentos have mobilized State coercive agency – the Police who are also paid by the public exchequer to arrests, harass and inflict innumerable repressive measures as it has been happening in Colamb, Sanguem for those villagers protesting against mining companies.

Of course SDM considers minerals as national wealth and it cannot be stopped from exploitation. But nowhere he mentions and take note about the fact that people’s houses have developed crack not only due to rippers but also though blasting carried out by the Fomentos. Devki Katu Velip’s residence is an example to this. Why overlook? Nowhere he has developed understanding of the scenario as to what is going to happen to this village of Colamb if mining leases get activated? What will be the remains of the village that has total area 1929 hectares and out of which 1524 hectares are under mining leases? And not the SDM knows about from the remainder how much land is forest land under the control of the Forest department that operates in tyrannical fashion chiefly because it behaves as lackey of the forest department to make more land available to mining industry? It is indeed strange that what is common knowledge does not reach the ears of the SDM. We can only guess why! These valuable aspects he missed out completely before designing his methodology. His methodology is designed to wipe the tears of the crying children. It pays lip service towards any genuine attempts to find out the root cause of the pain that releases tears from the farmers eyes. The situation is serious, if people don’t have space to cultivate paddy then very soon they have to adopt going hungry or eating mining silt. Or become laborers on mines and depend at the mercy of the mining company for their livelihood. SDM order has given the stamp of legitimacy to the mining loot in a fantastic theatrics’ style: mining company will continue its loot caring dam for all the dissent in the world and State is going to supplement mining company with additional police re-enforcements whenever necessary. Already police have filed cases against the villagers and some have even been arrested. Worse Police goes on random picking of the villagers take them to Police station for harassment purpose. Egypt Dias and Manuel Dias were picked up in this fashion on October 14, 2007. Rama Velip and Motesh Antao were also targeted by Police earlier through arrests.

It was surprising that SDM had no means of verifying as to who tarred the road under reference. His analysis relies upon assumptive word ‘Perhaps’. This is speculation and not analysis. And subsequently your conclusions are erroneous to the core. Colamb struggling People have got nothing to do with law and order problem. They are acting in collective defense of their agriculture from mining invasion backed by State power. It is mining company that is creating law and order problem. It is mining company that is snatching the peoples’ means of livelihood by various means including co-ersion.

And these affected villagers are declared as Scheduled Tribes and this is chosen reward from the mining industry-State nexus. I understand the phrase ‘Private-Public Participation’ meaning of ‘Private’ in SDMs opinion as Fomento mining group. I failed to understand the meaning of ‘Public’ is. Does that mean participative and joyful tolerance of nuisance of Fomentos though its mining mischief? Or does ‘Public’ means likes of the SDM, Police, Water Resource Department Officials, Forest Department officials, Mining Department officials, and the like ‘Public’ officials? It would be nice if SDM clarifies what if the composition of the word ‘Public’ in participation is.

The compensation as way of compromise is not workable at all. Rs.400/- per month per person that Fomentos have been going about making agreements is a nasty fraud on the lives of the common people that will have consequences of its own. This of course is not mentioned in the minutes but derived logically from the utterances of the lawyer that majority of people supports mining in Colamb, Sanguem. In any case compensation is like ‘I give you one slap and then pay Rs.10/- and logically I can give you any amount of slaps and go on paying proportionately.’ I go on doing this because I have money to do so. Subsequently if I have to go on leaving I have to go on taking selling myself for more and more slaps, my hands are now accustomed to taking slaps and more slaps and more importantly I can not do without slaps. For I have no land left to cultivate. This is an ideology of compensation.

Again mining company manager pulled smart one over the shoulders of SDM or rather that’s how the whole show was organized; mining manager is quoted as saying that they have taken precautions against wash over of mining silt into the nallah and they subsequent preventions of washing the same into agricultural lands. Of course this is bullshit. And do note the hilarious explanation of executive engineer who is also canal officer. According his logic there could be not siltation of Paddy fields till the nallah – flowing fresh water body is complexly buried with silt and silt them will have to overflow and find its way into agricultural lands. Of course he dished out the logic and scenario as desired by his bosses in the fomento mining company. There are plenty of officers like him who have sold their ethics for a brief case or two. Other wise you as members of public go and inspect the paddy field, meet up the affected people yourself and arrive at your own conclusions and your conclusions. If you have not taken briefcases from Fomentos will be opposite to the conclusion in this report. However he admitted that there is already siltation caused and he does not talk of it irreversible impacts on ecology.

The geologist at the mining department who was also present at this meeting agrees with me that his department is impotent to discipline mining companies as the companies over the period of time have become the Princes of Goa through 5 decades of loot and have enormous power at all level of Judiciary, Legislature and Executive. With mining loot going at this scale there is hardly any hope of preserving Goa’s identity as its majestic Western Ghats Mountains are slaughtered daily. It is only struggling people like that of Colamb that can contribute towards creating new identity for Goa in the face of State – Corporate nefarious nexus in place. These minutes are shining example of the way this nexus is operating inside the veins of Goa.

Sebastian Rodrigues

MINUTES OF THE MEETING CONVENED BY THE SUB DIVISIONAL MAGISTRATE (SDM) OF QUEPEM SUB-DIVISION QUEPEM GOA ON 13/10/2007 TO TAKE STOCK OF THE LAW & ORDER PROBLEM PERTAINING TO OPERATION OF MINE BY HIRALAL KHODIDAS & COMPANY PRESENTLY OPERATED BY FOMENTO MINING GROUP

The following members were for the meeting

1. Shri Parag Nagarssekar, Mamlatdar of Sanguem. 2. Shri Sudin Natu, Mamlatdar of Quepem 3. Shri Hector Fernandes, Asstt. Geologist, Director of Mines & Geology, Panaji 4. Shri S.M. Rangaraju, Exe. Engineer, Water Resource Department (WRD) 5. Shri Paily P., A.E. Water Resource Department 6. Shri B.S. Prabhu, Zonal Agriculture Officer(ZAO), Sanguem 7. Shri P.B.Shirvoikar, Police Inspector(PI), Quepem Police Station 8. Shri Gajanan Harihar Karkare, Sr. Manager 9. Shri Atul V. Makode, Mines Manager 10. Shri P.T. Naidu 11. Shri Vijay D. Kerker 12. Shri Gokuldas K Naik 13. Shri Sandeep Gaonkar 14. Shri V.K. Prabhu Dessai 15. Shri Rama L. Velip 16. Shri Egypt D’Souza? 17. Shri Telu Dias 18. Shri Rajanikant Velip 19. Shri Ramchandra Velip 20. Shri Sebastiao D’Souza? 21. Shri Ajai N. Naik 22. Shri Gaurish Naik

At the outset the SDM Quepem welcomed the gathering & disclosed that the meeting was convened in order to tackle the law and order problem which has been constantly taking place at the site of the operation of mine by Hiralal Khodidas & company which is presently operated by Fomento Mining Group. The main issue which the villagers were concerned of is about adjoining nallah which is passing on the peripheri of the mining activity & secondly about the run-offs of the mines getting accumulated in the adjoining agricultural lands.

The villager named Rama Ladu Velip addressed to say that the sludge of the mine is affecting the paddy fields and the lands which are being cultivated by the Schedule Tribes is getting destroyed due to the silt. The land which is classified as forest land is also being surreptitiously utilized for mining activity & the forest resources is getting depleted day by day, has developed cracks to the households of the inhabitants who reside in the vicinity of the mining area and that the water table of the land has been substantially reduced.

Shri Venkatesh Keshav Prabhu Dessai, another villager pointed out to say that the agricultural lands in the vicinity of the mining area are giving a double yield-kharif & Rabi type due to the availability of water source from the nallah. He also stated that the plateau used for mining acts as a reservoir for harvesting water during monsoon due to its capillary action and that protective measures taken by the mining company serve no purpose and that the operation of mines be stopped.

Shri Salvador Dias, a villager submitted that the Government is encouraging agricultural activity by giving various types of subsidies, but on account of the operation of the mines the doles dished out by the Government would serve no purpose. He also stated that there would be no grazing ground left of available for the cattle and prayed that the mines be stopped from conducting any of its operation.

Shri Hector Fernanades was representing the Director of Mines & Geology. He stated that the mining concession was in existence since 1949 by the virtue of Title of Concession No.6 for Iron and Manganese. The activities were going on manually for extracting Manganese ore and since the past 18 months this activity is controlled by the Central Government and the monitoring aspect is done by the Directorate of Mines, is what Mr. Hector had to say. The approvals for the operating of mine have been given by the Indian Bereau of Mines (IBM) after studying the mining plan which is accompanied by the study of Environment Impact Assessment. The concerns of the environment are looked after and taken care of by the IBM. The environment clearance of the present mine was given bye the Ministry of Environment and Forest on 12/3/2007 and is valid till date. Mr. Fernandes also stated that the area of lease given to the mine is 70,1870 sq.mts and he feigned ignorance as private forest. The usage of machinery on the mines is also subject to the Mines Safety Act is what Mr. Hector had to say

The Executive Engineer Mr. Ranga Raju who is also a canal Officer attached the Water Resources Department was present and he placed on record the series of reports which he has made from time to time alongwith photographical evidence of the nallah. The said correspondence and measures suggested by the canal Officer the average depth of the nallah is 2 mts. He submitted that only when the nallah is completely filled with silt, than and only than it would start overflowing and accumulating in the properties. He stated that due to precautionary measures adopted by the mining firm, the silt accumulated in the nallah is less for which measures could be taken for desiltation. He also submitted that the various barriers put across by the mining firm arrests the sludege/run-offs to a great extent.

According to the Zonal agricultural Officer Shri Babal S. Prabhu, he stated that the only if the nallah is completely filled up than only the damage would start accruing in the paddy fields. He also pointed out to his report submitted to the collector in April 2007, whereby he has highlighted the ill effects that would plague the agricultural sector in the years to come.

The representative of the mining company i.e. the Senior Manager Mines Shri Gajanand karkare submitted that all precautionary measures have been adhered to by the firm as per the directions given by the Chief Secretary of Goa. He also submitted that the mining company is always open for suggestions which are constructive in nature and that the activities carried out are legal in nature.

Adv. Hemkant Bhangui, pointed out to say that out of entire village only a handful villagers were opposed towards the project and a majority of them ar for it. He stated to say that the nallah is clear from all respect and the activity cannot be halted inspite of having valid legal permissions. He also stressed on the report of EIA which was banked upon by the Indian bureau of Mines whilst granting the permission. He also pointed out to say that when the mining concession has not been challenged since the past 5 decades, the question of stopping any activity of mining does not arise.

Some truck owners from the locality namely Shri Suryakant Naik and Shashikant Devidas submitted that the activity should be permitted for the employment and for doing ancillary business activities connected with mining.

A person named Arun Vijay Madgaonkar who is a resident of Marcel, khandola under the banner of Gram Vikas Kendra spoke on the ill-effects of mining activities ranging from the issues of water depletion to overloading of trucks. He also stated that the mining companies have not adhered to the norms laid to re-do the earth and bring it back to its original position by planting of trees. He also raised apprehensions and concerns for the village of Rivona, Colomba and surrounding areas by bringing it to the fore that some two more mining companies are likely to surface in the locality, which according to him would add more misery than any good to the local populace.

Another person by name of Shri Narayan Colambkar stated that the road which is presently used by the mining firm is his personal private land and he stated that the road cannot be put to use for mining operations.

BRIEF ANALYSIS

After hearing all the parties present i.e. the various agencies of the Government, the agitators and the representatives of the mining firm. It has been made crystal clear to one and all, that the jurisdictional limits of the SDM are minimal and that it is not clothed with powers to order stoppage of the mining activity considering the valid permissions which the mining firm has with them. Although the agitators have raised a cloud of suspicion in their minds about the grant of permissions, as an SDM, the office cannot go into the merits of each and every permission granted to the firm.

All what the SDM would want is maintenance of peace and tranquility in the society and if there is any contravention on this count, than the SDM would have to step in and take adequate measures to maintain the peace and tranquility. On the personal visit and inspection of the mining area on 9/10/2007 the SDM had collected soil samples for testing from two different sites i.e. one from the area which was alleged to have deposits of mining silts. The soil testing was carried out by the South Goa Branch of Agriculture Department and the reports which arrived today disclosed that both the soils had similar readings, which means to say that the fertility count of the soil has not been disturbed. The report too was tabled today for scrutiny before the meeting. So also the personal Inspection of nallah did not show the SDM the presence of alluvial deposits from the mines.

The core issue being that of deposits in the nallah and damage to agricultural lands has been properly answered by the Canal officer and the report of soil testing by the Agricultural Department.

As regards the Issue of road, although a hue and cry has been raised by the alleged property owner, this office opines that for all purposes the said road has to be treated as a public road. The road is pucca in nature and perhaps the PWD or the local authority must have tarred the same. Considering the fact of monies being pumped in for construction of the road from the exchequer, preferential right of use of the road would obviously be for the public and hence it is deemed to be considered as public road. However, if Shri Colombkar has a better title over the said road to the mines, he is at liberty to knock the doors of the forum having Civil jurisdiction. Preventing usage of the said road by using muscle power or by illegally blocking the same through other means is not a healthy sign and no law of the land would permit any person to do such and act.

METHODOLOGY TO ADOPT PREVENTIVE MEASURES TO CURB ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION

Degradation of Environment especially due to mining has been an issue which has from time to time being raised before for various reasons including in the Honourable High Court and Honourable Supreme Court. On every given occasion it has been a practice to issue directives to prevent environmental degradation as mining reserves cannot be stopped from being explored and exploited as it is part and parcel of national wealth.

Public Private Participation (PPP) is the need of the hour to bring about transparency in the adoption of preventive measures to curb environmental degradation. This proposal was put forth to the public which has been readily accepted, the committee members shall visit mining area every month and suggest measures from time to time. The committee should chalk out its own programme of field visit preferably in the first week of every month and within the first ten days of every month should submit a report to the mining firm and the collector(s) with a copy endorsed to the SDM of the Sub Division of Quepem. The mining firm should adopt the preventive measures in the same month itself and when the Committee members pay their field visit in the ensuing month they should assess the measures so adopted by the firm.

In the set up of PPP the degradation of environment which is at its optimum would get reduced to great extent and finally there would be a day where there would be zero tolerance to environmental degradation.

At any given time, if there are any deposits in the nallah the mining company should bear the total cost of desiltation by taking the technical know-how from the Canal Officer.

The run-offs from the mine in the agricultural properties could also be properly channelised through the tailing ponds by way of which the paddy field would not get destroyed.

The committee should comprise of three villagers the names of which has to be vetted by the Village Panchayat of Rivaona, the Mines Manager & Mining Engineer, Officials from each departments i.e. The Zonal Agricultural Office, Forest Department, Directorate of Mines and Canal Officer from WRD.

CONCLUSION

Under the above premises which has been espoused in the methodology part, the SDM called upon the parties present to maintain peace, tranquility and decorum and if need be to knock the doors of the appropriate forum to stop the operations of the mines, if they are insisting on the same. The SDM also called upon the gathering that the mines would start operating from 15/10/2007 and if there is any law and order problems than action would be initiated against them as per the law in force. The meeting thereafter ended with these directives.

Sd/- on 13/10/2007 (Johnson Bedy Fernandes) Deputy Collector & S.D.M., Quepem – Goa.

C.C. For Information to: 1. The Collector and District Magistrate (S), Margao-Goa?, with a request to kindly initiate steps to form a core committee as espoused in the methodology part of the minutes drawn and forwarded herein.


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