No potable water? Drink
After plundering Goa’s forests and land in quest of precious ore, time has come for the greedy mining lobby to possibly siphon water for export! With our piped water supply polluted with manganese, and mining dumps already eyed by mining lobby for export, it won’t be a surprise if our water too makes way for China shores!
The pollution of the State’s potable water to over 70 per cent of the State’s population is not a new phenomenon. It has been a hidden reality for years. As early as in 2000, Dr Joe D’Souza of Goa University had in a science journal warned about the manganese pollution affecting Salaulim water reservoir. Magnese dioxide (oxidized form and therefore at that point of time insoluble) which flows down from the hillside gushes into Salaulim reservoir, when is then converted into manganous oxide (reduced form) due to the presence of magnese reducing bacteria, which then becomes soluble and is available in water. This soluble manganous oxide is immediately absorbed by the body, leading to physiological problems, affecting kidneys and other aspects of the functioning of the human body.
D’Souza had then recommended that mining should be stopped in the surrounding area of the reservoir. This was because even the filter cakes were found to be clogged with magnese. Authorities however sat over the recommendation over the years, with the prospects of people having to bear the consequences on their ill health, as is evident most amongst the residents of Canacona, who suffer a high incidence of kidney related ailment.
On this occasion, the problem arose following the dramatic rise in the manganese content in the reservoir. Its content shot up six folds from the usual 0.5 mg to 3.0 mg, as the mining dumps stacked alongside the rivers feeding water into the reservoir got washed into it due to heavy downpour.
But, though instances of incessant rains have been a characteristic of Goa, the State had not experienced such pollution levels. Evidently, Nature revolted, after human greed reached intolerable levels. Almost 20 mines exists within 500 meters of Selaulim water reservoir, of which 17 are within 200 meters. The uppermost question is: how these mines got the license to continue to mine and why no safeguards were implemented? Indiscriminate mining, specially open cast extraction of iron ore has radically degraded environment over the last decade, with several resultant ills – air, ground water, health, even soil fertility. Recommendations like proper slope stabilization to minimize further impact has hardly been carried out. Of course, some companies have carried out ecological restoration or imitative measures, but these are hardly anything to boast about. Today, our rivers, have been polluted with manganese, iron, cobalt and other trace elements, leaching from iron ore dumps on their banks during monsoons, apart from barges clearing their vessels aboard. Copper, chromium, zinc and lead are the other elements, which are also found in high concentrations. Our rivers have lost its depths in various places.
Needless to say, the impact of pollution is most on ground water. The Shah Commission has recommended a ban on all illegalities in the mining sector. But if this is the manner the abuse continues unabated, with rank indifference to nature and people’s health, and the government impotent to keep the mining cartel on a leash, then a ban on its export should be seriously mooted.
Goa is heading towards the Marie Antoinette era, where the people will beg for water and the government may turn around and suggest drinking aerated or packaged water! Troubles times are ahead! The government and the people of Goa must wake up NOW!