Edit Corner

Mines and Swines!

The incidents over the last month in Goa has shocked, disappointed and thrown open a reality check to the real viciousness and underbelly of the mining lobby in Goa – in fact the better term would be Mafia.

Everyone in the political circles in the state and at the Centre can see that while organized mining companies are indulging in illegal mining, the crux of the problem is in the unorganized mining companies that have been extracting mineral resources blatantly and illegally. Yet while some noise is being made to please the people in these villages who have been affected the end result is that even if there is a government order which was issued on March 17, 2011 about the mine trucks time to ply on the roads; you have the authorities in particular the police who claim they have received no such order. And many such heinous violations of the laws laid down by the Centre and state, but nobody in the authority does anything to curb or control.
The people of Caurem retaliated peaceful, what did they get in return, women who were dragged with saris coming off and men who were beaten and then detained. Even the Youth leader Nilesh Gaonkar faced an attack and the unknown assailants are still at large sipping some cheap Indian Whisky outside of Goa. So far the police besides a face sketch have got nothing on this investigation; even though many sources say that the Supari of Rs 2.5 lakhs was offered to a regular nuisance from Khareband, whose main job is to harass, threaten or intimidate people for which he takes the money. In fact the Supari was to injure Nilesh and not kill him, so as to create a fear in the people of Caurem. The two hired men had left Goa that afternoon itself.
In much the same vein the people of Rivona started to follow Caurem lead and stand up against illegal mining, but here too a Youth anti-mining activist came under a mining truck and died. Surprisingly the SP Tony Fernandes felt that he needed to console the family and presented them with an Rs 5 lakh cheque on the same day. Funny, the Canacona flood victims are still waiting for their money and here a police authority hands out a cheque to the deceased family on the same day. What about the investigations in the act, which is being made to look like an accident but it is highly coincidental considering that Francis was fighting to stop illegal mining and the people of Rivona were making some headway into getting their demands met. Even yesterday, it took a drive by Yuri Alemao and the change of heart of Fr Octavio to cause a divide in the people of Rivona which led to a fizzling out of their demands.
And to add to it, we had to see Goa burn in Balli, when the tribals took the streets. Here too according to some sources; Ramesh Tawdakar and Prakash Velip who have been spear heading this tribal demands; were found sitting in a comfortable position and urging tribal villagers forward to face the heat. Whether or not that it is true, it is a matter for the people at the site to judge for themselves, there is no doubt that in the guise of tribal welfare there is a shrewd political game in play. Also surprisingly the protestors who got out of hand, were not even the tribal villagers but some local men from Cuncolim, there is no prize in guessing which MLAs in Quepem and Cuncolim have the most to lose if the illegal mining is stopped or the tribal demands from the region is met and if sources at the scene are to be believed the ones who set the Adarsh building on fire are the same Cuncolim men.
As GC we have taken the Caurem case to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and have been updating them on every new development, but, while there are going to investigate the matter, my sources in NHRC tells me that the calls to go slow on the case has already reached them.
Balli is just the beginning. I see more people coming to the streets; some will be fueled by people with political interest, some because they are greatly distressed. Eventually, the peace and serenity of Goa is going to be under serious question. And government seems like it is not keen in curbing this unrest, I fear the worst is yet to come in Goa. But that is evitable since all our swines are more worried about the mines than the people.

– Savio Rodrigues
  Fouder & Editor
  savio@goachronicle.com

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