Mine in South Goa sealed after tribals protest

The Goa State Pollution Control Board has ordered sealing of a mine in a village near here after a protest by local tribals demanding a halt to the mining activity in the locality, officials said.

Panaji: The Goa State Pollution Control Board
has ordered sealing of a mine in a village near here after a
protest by local tribals demanding a halt to the mining
activity in the locality, officials said on Wednesday.

The pollution control board late last night ordered the
shutdown of the mine belonging to Devadongor Iron and
Manganese Private Limited at Caurem village in South Goa as
they failed to comply with the air and water pollution norms,
said officials.

The order came after a day-long agitation by 150 tribals
under the banner of Caurem Adivasi Bachao Samiti in front of
the GSPCB office.

The group also met Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and held
demonstrations in front of the State Mines and Geology
Department office.

The tribals were irked after the mining lease, which was
dormant all these years, was revived some months back
allegedly defying all norms.

The tribals raised fears that the mining activity
would destroy a mountain considered sacred to them and which
is also a perennial source of water.

"We don`t even pluck a leaf from that mountain. How can
we allow a mining firm to swallow it entirely?" asked a
67-year-old woman, who was the part of the group.

The protesters refused to budge till late evening even as
government officials assured them that an appropriate action
would be taken by Wednesday.

Finally bowing to the pressure, GSPCB issued an order
asking the local police inspector to seal the mine.

Subsequently, Mines Director Arvind Lolienkar also signed
an order asking the mine owner to halt mining operations in
the locality immediately and remove all machinery by 5 PM
today.

Goa has been witnessing protests in rural areas due to
incessant mining activity, spurring demand for ore in European
countries and in China.

The state exports around 40 million metric tones of ore
annually from its ports. Environmentalists have raised
concerns on the increasing mining in the state, which has
100-odd working leases and an equal number of mine sites
operating illegally.

A Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) report had pointed
out that between 2003-05 one crore tonnes of iron ore was
exported illegally without royalty being paid.

PTI