Goan NRIs campaign against illegal mining

The Goan diaspora is spearheading a campaign to shame the state and central authorities into reining in illegal and indiscriminate mining in Goa.

Panaji: The Goan diaspora worldwide is spearheading a campaign to shame the state and central authorities into reining in illegal and indiscriminate mining in Goa, timing it just ahead of Assembly polls.

Groups of ethnic Goans spread across Europe, Australia, Africa and the Americas have bunched under a global network `Save Goa Campaign UK` orchestrated by a Britain-based NRI, Carmen Miranda.

"Goa is being mined out of existence and the politicians and the bureaucrats are doing nothing about it. And yet they want to project Goa as a nice beautiful place to the world for tourism. We are in a position to embarrass this government globally with facts. And we will do it as a consistent campaign now," Cellie Gonsalves, a Canada-based NRI of Goan origin, said.

Cellie was here along with a delegation of the `Save Goa Campaign UK` to meet top officials on Friday and place their grievances about illegal mining, which has been backed by several ruling politicians.

World tourism boards, Indian embassies across the globe, business houses, iron ore traders and global steel industries are likely to be the target of this campaign which aims to embarrass state and federal governments to act against the mining rampages in Goa, where Chief Minister Digambar Kamat himself has been accused by the opposition of sitting over a Rs 25,000 crore mining scam.

Cellie`s angst represents the collective disgust of thousands of ethnic Goans settled across the globe who have signed up for the anti-mining campaign.

Initially the campaign, through photo exhibitions, power point presentations and lectures, started spreading the word to the Goan diaspora, about the unfathomable quantum of misery which has been unleashed on their native land by uncontrolled open cast iron ore mining, which results in extraction of over 50 million tonnes of iron-laced ore annually.

Donald Gonsalves, a Britain-based retired professional, said the diaspora members were planning to switch to a higher gear. He said they were in the process of collecting data about the buyers of Goan ore in China and other parts of the world and would petition them against it.

"Eighty-six percent of the iron ore from Goa goes to China and a huge percent of that ore is illegal. As part of this global campaign, we will tell these ore buyers that the ore from Goa is illegally extracted and that by buying the ore, they were being party to a crime," Gonsalves said.

Miranda, a former head of global development agency PANOS who kick-started the campaign, said they had already petitioned the chief minister of Goa, the entire cabinet, the chief secretary and the Goa governor to act against illegal mining.

"Circumstances beyond our control have led us to deliver this petition at a time when parties are campaigning for the March 3 assembly elections. We believe the message from the Goan diaspora is in fact timely and relevant to both the government currently in power and its successor," Miranda said.

Describing the campaign, Miranda said: "We (global Goan associations) have joined forces and are determined to do whatever is in our power to try and prevent a catastrophic environment disaster in Goa, as a result of excessive, unregulated and uncontrolled strip mining in our homeland."


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