Protests erupt in Goa tribal village against illegal mining

In the tribal village of Cauvrem in South Goa, people meet often now to discuss ways to prevent mining trucks from operating illegally in the region, as it has resulted in destruction of paddy and chilly crops.

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2011, 12:24 PM IST

Cauvrem: In the tribal village of
Cauvrem in South Goa, people meet often now to discuss ways to
prevent mining trucks from operating illegally in the region,
as it has resulted in destruction of paddy and chilly crops.

Protests have erupted a number of times in this village,
60 kms from Panaji, the latest being on Saturday when 95
villagers were placed under arrest for blocking traffic.

"We will continue agitating till the menace is stopped.
We have petitioned almost all the government agencies but the
illegal truck operations don`t stop," said Nilesh Gaonkar,
activist, Cauvrem Adivasi Bachao Samiti.

The villagers regularly meet at Gatranchi Dev temple, a
place where tribals hold their religious rituals.

"It’s dust all over. Mines have devastated our village and
the farms," he said.

"This year, almost 90 percent of the chilly cultivation
has been damaged. Also, the paddy cultivation has not survived
due to mining silt," Gaonkar said, pointing out to the fields.

Like several other villages in the mining fiefdom, it is
difficult to reach Cauvrem, home to 1,000 tribals from Velip
and Gaonkar communities, where huge six-wheeler trucks can be
seen raising dust and dirt.

Opposition to mining, especially illegal truck
operations, runs deep in this part of South Goa.

The tribals, who consider the mountains as sacred, are
aghast to see that a mining firm began excavating on a hill
here. A month back, they launched a massive agitation and
got permission from the office of Director of Mines in Panaji
to get work stopped at the site.

But woes did not end here as three existing mines
continued operating the trucks.

PTI