It was a victory for the might of the people as the authorities capitulated and ordered the closure of the mine in Cavrem village of Quepem taluka and the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has directed the Quepem police to enforce the closure order very strictly.
The order was issued following a nearly 12 hour long protest by the affected villagers who laid siege to the Mines Department office at Panjim after appraising Chief Minister Digambar Kamat about the matter earlier in the day at his residence at Margao.
The villagers decided to take this action as the mining was continuing at Devapann Dongor in Cavrem even though it was ordered to be closed following complaints of illegalities. The mining operations were being carried out under the pretext of complying with conditions laid down by the GSPCB.
The villagers were further incensed by the fact that instead of acting against those carrying on the mining operations despite the close down order, Quepem police summoned four villagers to the Police Station under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code which empowers police to prevent cognizable offences.
Around 100 villagers marched to the police station to protest against the harassment meted out by the police to peaceful villagers struggling to preserve the environment and ecology while allowing illegal activities and plunder of the state continue.
Another group marched to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s residence at Margao and after explaining the position to him they travelled to Panjim to the GSPCB office, where the replies from the officials did not satisfy them.
Although the mine was ordered to be closed on 2nd December 2010, the owner has been carrying on mining claiming that he is complying with the directives of the GSPCB which has kept his renewal application pending till certain parameters are met.
While a group of the villagers remained at the GSPCB office, others marched to the Director of Mines and laid siege to his office refusing to budge from there till the closure order was issued.
Seeing the mood of the people, there were some hurried consultations and at 9:30 pm the GSPCB faxed the closure order to the Mines Department. The mine owner has not only been asked to stop the mining activity but also remove all the machinery from the site by 5 pm on Wednesday and the Quepem Police have been directed to ensure that the order is obeyed.