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However, cases against the tribals have not yet been withdrawn, even though the High Court of Bombay at Goa and the Goa Child Rights Commission took up suo motu cognizance of the incident.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

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Lynching as state terror? Complete dearth of 'political will' to deal with mob violence

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Friday July 5, thousands of people had gathered at a rally in Surat to protest against the growing mob lynching incidents in different parts of the country. There are different interpretations at what happened during the rally: with police blaming the rallyists and those in the rally blaming the police for using teargas shells upon them without any reason.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.