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However, cases against the tribals have not yet been withdrawn, even though the High Court of Bombay at Goa and the Goa Child Rights Commission took up suo motu cognizance of the incident.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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

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.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”