Navhind Times | 1 year ago | 13-01-2022 | 01:38 am
People are angry with false assurances given by the BJP govt on restarting operations: Puti GaonkarShoma PatnaikPanaji: With as much as 23% of Goa’s electorate residing in mining-dominated constituencies, the closure of iron ore mining for the last four years is expected to swing votes in a big way in the coming assembly elections. Iron ore mining was stopped on March 16, 2018, after the Supreme Court cancelled 88 leases.“The sudden closure made residents of mining constituencies lose permanent jobs. Many took up alternate jobs. However, the jobs were taken up reluctantly due to lack of choice. Truck drivers employed with mining companies became security guards. The money they previously got by way of bonus, gratuity, PF and medical benefits is not there in their present jobs,” said a resident of the mining belt.Sanvordem, Quepem, Valpoi, Poriem, Sanguem, Curchorem, Quepem, Mayem, Sanquelim and Bicholim, comprising 2.04 lakh voters, are the constituencies with population largely dependent on mining.According to Puti Gaonkar, president, Goa Mining People Front (GMPF), post the closure of mining, not many were re-employed in other industries. “Due to COVID-19, the hospitality industry is also not offering adequate jobs. People are angry with false assurances of restarting mining by the present government. The issue of restarting operations has been made complicated though the Supreme Court order is clear. As dependents, our stand is always to restart mining in any way. If auction is not possible, we welcome the mining corporation. Even there, the government is delaying. They have only fooled the people. It will reflect in the votes,” he said.Atul Jadhav, chairman, CII-Goa, also believes that closure of mines will be an issue in the coming elections because many perceive that not much has been done to restart operations and “whatever has been done has not worked out.”Neelkant Gawas, the All Goa Truck Owners Association, said people in the mining belt had lost faith that the present government would restart work. “Mining dependents now feel the industry has been purposefully stopped to allow entry of Ambani, Adani, Jindal and Vedanta. The government has said that it will export waste ore dumped outside lease areas and give employment to people. It is a statement made without thought because waste dumps have to be used to refill old mining pits to return the land back to its original state. Exporting dumped ore can cause huge ecological problems,” he said.MLAs in the mining belt were worried because of the impact on voter psyche. “The silence of the Union government on a solution to Goa’s mining woes is angering the people,” said Gawas.Environmentalists and eco-tourism stakeholders are happy about the dust-free environment following the closure of mining. On the other hand, large populations in the mining belt do not have alternative sources of income. To re-start mining activities, the government petitioned the Supreme Court for amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDRA) and the Goa, Daman & Diu Mining Concession (Abolitions & Declaration of Mining Leases) Act – Abolition Act, both of which were turned down. The government set up the Goa Mineral Development Corporation, signed an MOU with the Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. for identification of iron ore blocks for auction, and appointed SBI Caps as the transaction adviser for the auction process. But with the election code of conduct in force now, the auction process is incomplete.
Ponda: Power minister Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar said that India’s biggest achievement is that it continues to be the largest and most vibrant democratic country in the world. He was speaking after unfurling the tricolour to mark the 74th Republic Day at a programme held at Government Sports Complex, Borimol, Quepem.Stating that Republic Day is an occasion to remember all those who laid down their lives for the nation, Dhavalikar said that democracy is strengthened due to the Constitution provided by B R Ambekar. “India is recognised as a vibrant democracy in the world. The progress made by the country in the last 74 years was only due to the Constitution. The Constitution gave due justice to all the constituents,” he said.“The country has done exceptional work in every field, be it infrastructure, water supply, water resources, education, justice system or the arts. It is the responsibility of every citizen to stop the unconstitutional things that happen while considering the security of the country,” he added.He said that though Goa was liberated in 1961, 14 years after India gained independence, the state has done “exceedingly well in all the fields”.
Panaji: Goa’s directorate of mines and geology and the state forest department have been slammed by the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) of the Union environment ministry for recommending a proposal to handle an old iron ore dump without studying the impact on flora and fauna. The site is in Dharbandora, located outside the mining lease area.The directorate of mines and geology was further criticised for admitting that it has no knowledge of dumps located in forest areas. “The Goa forest department has not made a clear finding regarding the stability of the dump and how it is in the interest of flora, fauna and wildlife to disturb old dump instead of assisting in ecological restoration,” the REC said.The department had forwarded the proposal to the REC recommending the extension of approval for a miner to divert 4.9 ha of forest land for the removal of ore rejects dumped in Dharbandora.The deputy conservator of forests of the government of Goa had recommended an approval for a four-year period. But the REC noted that this proposal had come before it last year, when it had directed the Goa government to submit details of all similar dumps in forest areas. The REC also wanted to know whether such dumps have been disposed of and what procedure was adopted.But the directorate of mines and geology told the REC that it has no knowledge of such dumps in forest areas.“The directorate of mines and geology has not performed the statutory due diligence regarding identification/assessment/evaluation of mineral rejects/sub-grade ore/by-product which are stacked outside the lease area,” the REC said.The directorate of mines and geology of Goa, the REC said, did not perform its duty even though the Goa Mineral Policy, 2013, clearly requires it to identify dump sites and persons owning or responsible for them.The committee noted that the dump at Dharbandora is nearly 42 years old and the satellite imagery shows a good amount of vegetation of density 0.6 in general, except in the central part which permitted handling before the Supreme Court’s mining ban came into force in Goa in February 2018.“Without first ascertaining the treatment prescribed for dump material under the relevant mining plan of the parent mine, its extraction is not advisable, especially since the original mine is located in forest area as above, near to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and per findings the mining therein has already intersected water table,” the REC said.It said that the Goa government or the Goa forest department as custodians have not examined these aspects and not established a clear finding on the mine pit rehabilitation in the interest of flora, fauna, forest cover and wildlife while forwarding the proposal. In view of the ‘incompleteness and non-compliances of the proposal with the existing rules/policy guidelines/court orders’, the REC decided to forward the proposal to handle the ore rejects at the Dharbandora dump to the government of India with the recommendation for rejection.“It is further of the view that the state government should scrutinise the proposals thoroughly before forwarding them to the government of India in future,” the REC said.
PANAJI: Even as the diversion of waters from the Mhadei is being widely discussed, experts who have worked in preservation of water bodies said that the government also needs to keep track of surface area lost to different constructions, which are reducing ground water recharge area in Goa. For improved management of internal water resources, Goa also needs to focus on more utilisation of treated water from sewage treatment plants and plan use of water in abandoned mining pits.“When we expand highways, we asphalt more surface, but we are not compensating the land area lost for percolation of water,” said Sachin Tendulkar, a 2007 Fulbright scholar who has studied hydrological issues in Australia. “Our gutter designs are also faulty, as we line them with concrete, and no laterite is used for the water to percolate. Goa is also not reutilising its grey water. Nature has resilience, but beyond a point it will break, like in the case of River Sal, which has deteriorated due to too much urbanisation,” Goa has few operational sewerage treatment plants (STP), yet even the 20 to 30MLD of water treated from the plants is not being reused in the state. According to officials, the cost of drinking water supplied to consumers is one of the lowest, leading to little or no demand for treated grey water.A geologist said that more and more people are also opting to lay pavers around their houses instead of growing a garden, which too is reducing the surface area for groundwater recharge.As the state water resources department’s (WRD) 2021 water policy points out, although Goa receives copious rainfall, the steep topography, variation of rainfall, saline intrusion reducing the yield of the rivers, and mining activities are some of the issues.“There are 27 mines located near the Mandovi, ten of which are some of the largest in Goa,” said Ramesh Gauns, who has been fighting in court the battle to preserve Goa’s water bodies. “The waste generated from iron ore extraction has slid into the rivers. There has been no study of horticultural fields, wells, and springs lost due to unregulated mining activities over the year. There is a 16,000sqm lake destroyed due to mining in Mulgao, and another lake of over 3,300 sqm on government-owned land, has been lost at Lamgao.”Gauns said that if the state’s water resources are not managed better, Goa may find it difficult to even sustain its largest revenue generating industry, tourism. Tendulkar said that community-driven water harvesting projects are one way to create a sense of ownership towards preservation of groundwater in the state.“Show me one panchayat in Goa which has implemented rainwater harvesting with their own funds. When there is people’s participation, there will be a sentiment that it is their work to ensure ground water recharge and preserve existing water bodies,” said Tendulkar.He said that when forest trees are felled to plant cashew trees, usually, compensatory afforestation does not take place.“In cashew plantations, the land below is fully cleared of any growth to be able to collect the fruit, which causes the water to run off the ground below,” he said, adding that the constant increase in tourist footfalls and the meeting of the tourist belt’s water requirement by pulling water there from other areas is also an unhealthy trend, said Tendulkar.“We have a plan where we want to invite lakhs of tourists,” he said. “This requirement for water cannot be met with filtration alone. Each person drinks up to four liters of water a day, we are wasting the rest of the 131 litres in a day, in bathing, etc. In the Cujira school complex, for instance, we have almost 5,000 students. We need to reduce the load on our filtration plants during the summer through rainwater harvesting.”
Margao: A number of tourism development projects are in the works in Quepem constituency.Development of Datta temple at Quepem and the promenade by the Kushawati river is among the major projects that are planned by the tourism department. This was stated in a written reply tabled in the House by tourism minister Rohan Khaunte to a legislative assembly question by Quepem MLA Altone D’Costa. The project is estimated to cost Rs 61 lakh.Beautification and Illumination of Holy Cross and viewpoint at hill top at Quepem costing an estimated Rs 1.2 crore is also among the works planned, the reply added. The proposal for beautification of Canaguinim beach with benches and toilet block is also being processed, the reply further stated. As the access road passes through a private property, the NOC from the stakeholder concerned is being obtained, Khaunte further said in the reply.Besides, infrastructure development works estimated at over Rs 4 crore are under way in Balli, Morpirla and Barcem villages of Quepem constituency, which are in various stages of completion, the reply added.
Porvorim: The Goa Appropriation Bill, 2023, was passed in the House on Wednesday. The Bill empowers the government to withdraw over Rs 1,200 crore from the state’s Consolidated Fund as supplementary grants for the financial year 2022-23. Chief minister Pramod Sawant said that CAG has pointed out that Goa’s GSDP is 1.1% which is higher than the national rate. “CAG stated that Goa economy is having positive rate,” Sawant said.sSawant said that over Rs 100 crore will be utilised for pension and salaries and over Rs 160 crore would be utilised for schemes. Sawant said that revenue from mining will start in two to three years. Sawant said that the state government will make budgetary provision of funds for the Konkani Bhavan.Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai said that considering the utilisation of funds by the government this year, 20% budget will remain unutilised. Sardesai questioned why the state government did not re-tender the mining block after the export duty was withdrawn. “The last date for purchase of tender was November 15, 2022 and the central government withdrew the export duty on November 18. To get maximum revenue for the state, why the government did not re-tender the blocks to get optimum value for natural resources?” Sardesai said.Opposition leader Yuri Alemao demanded allocation of funds for the Konkani Bhavan, among other projects.