‘Goans Against Coal’, ‘Kollso naka, Kollso naka’, ‘Save Mollem’, ‘Double tracking, treble trouble’. On a weekend morning Alexander Palace in Muswell Hill woke up to a group pf Goans marching in solidarity with fellow Gans back home. Far removed, in distance, the miles they walked bridged the gap between Alexander Palace and Arrosim, or Cansaulim, Velsao, Vasco and of course Mollem. While the setting was green and gorgeous, everyone’s mind was in Goa, with each recounting their home and their village.
Many of those who walked belonged to villages not far from the nerve centres of the agitation in Goa.
The Goan marchers in London identified the double-tracking of the South West Railway line, expansion of a highway, a power transmission line and the IIT project in Satarri, as the main projects to protest against in solidarity with their brethren in Goa.
The Goan diaspora came together maintaining strict protocols in place due to COVID 19 restrictions.
The event planned on social media in less than two weeks drew around 50 protestors holding placard’s walking silently in support of those agitating in the State of Goa, the walk began at Alexandra place East Court through the Pond and finished at the Alexandra Palace West Court said a long-time resident in the UK Januario Po who traces his roots to St. Jacinto Island near Vasco and added the solidarity walk drew many curious people wanting to know why the government was working against the wishes of the locals.
He also stressed on the need for the State government to look for more sustainable projects and not for projects at the cost of destroying environment and disrupting lives.
The voices were clear “Please don’t destroy Goa, no development at the cost of environment”, “Save goa for the future generations”, were the slogans that rang out.
Another Goan, Cleto Fernandes originally hailing from Curtorim, voiced his concerns on coal transportation and feared that a green Goa would soon turn into black Goa, if the double-tracking of the railway project carried on despite peoples opposition.
Similar were the views of Paxio Colaco originally hailing from Benaulim, who urged the elected representatives to hear the voices of the electorate as they have been elected to safeguard the interest of the citizens.
It was not just Goans but friends of Goa who too joined in to express solidarity with the people of Goa opposing the environmental destructive projects.
One of the main organisers of the event, activist Carmen Miranda stated that the walk was in response to the ongoing struggle of many communities in Goa against the negative impacts of coal transportation through Goa for industries in Karnataka, and various other destructive projects most of them linked to transport and coal hubs in Goa.
She further stated that the event was planned to give Goans living in the UK to express their deep concern about the rampant destruction of Goa, as a result of misguided, unnecessary and unwanted development projects being imposed on Goa.
It was decided during a brief stop during the walk to communicate about the coal issues, that it was time to re-activate Save Goa Campaign UK which was started to fight the battles against mining in Goa. So now we will fight the coal, railway double-tracking, the destruction of Mollem National Park forced land acquisition for rail tracks and several other linked issues to development projects rejected by the people of Goa , especially by the people who are in the front line of the direct negative impacts from these developments.
Ms Miranda further informed that similar solidarity walks are planned in the near future, in areas where there is a large number of Goan diaspora living in London and hoped the Goa government takes notice of the voices from far and wide.