Residents of the mining belt have been protesting government’s delay in constructing bypass for the trucks. SHWETA KAMAT met some of the villagers for their views on this project
Blockage of traffic, accidents by the mining trucks and dust pollution are the main causes of agitation and anger by the villagers against mining. With construction of dedicated corridors being the only solution to this problem, the concerned and affected villagers of Quepem, Curchorem, and Sanguem have been protesting against Government’s delay in building bypass for running the trucks ferrying iron ore. The villagers have threatened to halt the mining operations in their villages, if government fails to resolve their grievances.
The villagers are frustrated about the rampant, negligent, uncontrolled and non monitored mining transportation that is taking place in their respective areas. Even though, mining is not in full swing, thousands of trucks ply every day with one truck making two-three trips.
The locals recently gheraoed the deputy collector Quepem on the transportation issue and the steps government intends to take to resolve it.
Pradeep Kakodkar, leader of Mission Bypass, said that MoEF has issued an Office Memorandum which restricts mining transportation on village roads. He further informed that the mining companies should take utmost care not to disturb biological clock of the villagers and should construct a separate mining bypass leaving a gap of at least 200 metres from the village to arrest accidents, noise and dust pollution.
“State government has been dragging its feet over the crucial mining by-pass which needs to be completed in three phases. Due to this the trucks are forced to take the main road resulting in several fatal accidents. The truckers drive rashly and in negligent manner. With narrow village roads and trucks being parked on the either side of the road, it becomes very difficult for the normal commuter to travel,” Kakodkar explained adding ‘though government has fixed the speed limit, no trucks follow it’.
The citizens highlighted the gross violation of Goa (Prevention of illegal mining, storage and transportation of minerals) Rules, 2013 by the mining companies.
Uttam Velip, a villager from Caurem, Quepem recalled that he and his daughter would have been crushed under the tyres of a mining truck, had he not moved out of the road for their safety. “This is not just my story but every person travelling on these roads has this fear in their mind,” he lamented.
One Adv Joao Fernandes said that the mining companies, especially which are at Caurem Maina, are least concerned about the local civilians who use the public roads. “The trucks are negligently parked on the road causing inconvenience to the public with traffic jams. The authorities have also allowed parking the mining trucks on road during the lunch time. This is very unsafe, as no space is left for others to travel,” he explains.
Ravindra Velip, promoter of Sadhan Multipurpose Co-operative Society Ltd, (SMCSL) Caurem, said that the State Government agencies have allowed mining companies to violate all the laws in force which lead to rash, negligent and uncontrolled mining transportation causing accidents and loss of life. “The authorities have failed to take cognizance of correspondence made by the villagers during past few months,” he said.
Velip pointed out that there is gross violation of Mining transportation rules, norms laid down by Goa State Pollution Control Board and mining laws to meet the never ending greed for money of mining companies.
People’s anger may intensify post monsoon, when the new mining season will commence in October. Also it is learnt that in the new season, the production limit may go up from 20 million tonnes to 25-30 million tonnes annually.