Mining companies pay surety amount; Speaker, Health Minister intervene to sort out issue
PANJIM/COLVALE/VALPOI: Nearly 10 days after their arrest, the 45 villagers of Sonshi who were in judicial custody for blocking ore transportation were freed late Thursday night from Colvale Jail.
After a day of discussions and deliberations the issue between the villagers and mining companies was sorted out after Speaker Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane intervened in the matter.
The villagers were arrested by Valpoi police last week after they reportedly blocked ore transportation. They have been demanding that the mining company reduce dust pollution due to ore transportation as this was causing them health problems. They also demanded that the company provide jobs to locals.
The villagers’ legal counsel, Advocate Raviraj Chodankar, said that all 45 villagers were released late Thursday and the amount of surety was paid by the mining companies.
On Saturday the JMFC Valpoi had granted bail to all 45 villagers but due to lack of financial resources to pay the surety to the court, the villagers were not released.
“We also met Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday, he assured us that all our demands will be fulfilled. On Monday Speaker and Sanquelim MLA Pramod Sawant took stock of the situation and called mining company officials on Tuesday. The mining companies have accepted our demand to provide health care facilities and safe drinking water but they are not clear on part of providing employment to youths,” Chodankar said.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane also intervened in this matter and assured the villages that their demands will be fulfilled.
“Everything has been sorted after mutual discussions and today all 45 locals will be released,” Rane told Herald earlier. He, however, said, “We have to understand it is a mining dependent area and hence the operation or transportation cannot stop.” He said that problems there need to be sorted out by discussion and assured the villagers that he will take it up with the Chief Minister.
“Every issue of theirs will be sorted out and the villagers assured they will follow what I say,” he said.
Following the report in Herald the High Court as well as the Goa Human Rights Commission had taken cognisance of the matter. Parrikar also threatened to shut the mines if the companies don’t fall in line.
It was only after Herald broke the story of the pitiable situation of the villagers of Sonshi that the authorities took up the issue seriously.