Protest in Panaji over halting of mining in Goa



Panaji: Hundreds of people here on Tuesday began a chain sit-in protest demanding immediate resumption of mining activity in the state which has been on hold for the last four months following the Supreme Court directives.

The protestors, under the banner of Goa Mining People's Front (GMPF), have resolved to continue their peaceful protests at the historic Azad Maidan in Panaji, till their demands are met.

"This is an indefinite protest. We want the concerned authorities to know that the situation is grim in rural Goa. The people dependent on mining are going through a critical phase," GMPF leader Christopher Fonseca told media persons at the protest site.

The agitators demanded that the Supreme Court should have a sympathetic view towards issues of the people, who are facing difficulties after the mining ban.

All the 90-odd mining leases stopped functioning in Goa after the apex court ordered the halt of extraction and transportation of ore, awaiting report from the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

Fonseca said the protests are "beginning of a larger agitation that would not end unless demands are met. There will be protests in various forms across the state."

"The issues related to the livelihood of people are involved in this case. Around three lakh people are directly involved and as far as Goa's finances are concerned they have gone haywire," Fonseca said.

On the occasion, South Goa Progressive Truck Owners Association president Prakash Raut Desai said the situation will further worsen if mining continues to be on hold.

"For the last four months, we have been waiting patiently that mining will resume. But nothing has happened," he said.

Goa is the largest exporter of iron ore in the country with 43 million metric tonnes of ore exported during the last financial year.

PTI