Skip to main content

No end to misery of Goa tribal villagers who protested against iron ore mines', transporters' air, noise pollution

By Ashok Shrimali*
There is no end to misery of 45 tribals of a small Goa village, Sonshi, who were arrested in April this year for protesting against air and noise pollution which villagers say is caused by thousands of trucks running via the small road in the village.
Kept in judicial lockup for nine days in April, pressure began building when they refused to sign the bail bond and their school going children protested before the Police Station.

However, cases against the tribals have not yet been withdrawn, even though the High Court of Bombay at Goa and the Goa Child Rights Commission took up suo motu cognizance of the incident.
 The matter is still pending, even as the authorities have admitted in their report to the court that there was serious violation of law and that pollution was at a much higher level than the permissible limit.
A police report to the Goa administration, a copy of which is with Counterview, admits that daily 800 to 900 trucks ply through this route covering about 4,000 trips, transporting iron ore of six mining companies.
It says, “About 60 to 70 families residing at the starting point of these mines at Sonshi village next of the road are facing immense dust and sound pollution because of iron ore transportation”, adding, one of the mining companies has proposed to “increase 117 more trucks to ply through the same route.”
Seeking change of route for the truckers, the report says, there also exists a school in this area, with transportation carried out next to the school. Pointing out that here “about 20 to 25 trucks ply in a minute through this road, leading to dust pollution”, it warns of “fatalities due to vehicular accident.”
Ravindra Vellip of mines, minerals & People (mm&P), a civil rights organization, who has taken up the tribals’ cause, says, the mining was being carried out in violation of the Supreme Court Judgment in Writ Petition 435 of 2012, in which it directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to “strictly monitor the air and water pollution in the mining areas.”
Following an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gherao on April 26, the GSPCB, he says,  “woke up from its long sleep, issuing “show cause notice to the mining companies at Sonshi.” Yet, shockingly, he adds, “The GSPCB itself allowed mining companies to violate its own norms and conditions for more than five months.”
Vellip says, “The questions arises, why did Sonshi villagers arrested? Why charges were filed against them and why they were kept in judicial lockup for about 9 days?”, underlining, “It was GSPCB who failed to act. It was the GSPCB who violated the basic fundamental right of Sonshi villagers, their right to life, to fresh air and water, right to live.”
A mm&P  statement, quoting villagers, estimates that about 1,200 trucks ply daily converting about 10,000 to 12,000 daily trips through the village road, which means, “considering the average quantity of 10 tonne per truck, the total quantity of ore transported daily from six mining leases is approximately 0.1 MT per day.”
Meanwhile, in a letter to the Goa governor, with copies forwarded to the chief minister, the state police chief and senior officials of the state environment department, including the GSPCB, the local villagers have complained have sought immediate stopping of “illegal mining”.
---
 
*Secretary-general, mines, minerals & People

Comments

In GOA, Govt., authorities, police, GPCB, Mines Dept., etc. all are on paybooks of Mining companies, hence, they will never act. Unless there is a public cry and HC, HUman rights, take cognizance and move, there will be no action. Suffering public let cry or die, no one cares.

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.