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However, cases against the tribals have not yet been withdrawn, even though the High Court of Bombay at Goa and the Goa Child Rights Commission took up suo motu cognizance of the incident.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

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).