MAC: Mines and Communities

Goa State Government To Blame For Sanguem Mine Disaster

Published by MAC on 2006-01-15
Source: Gomantak Times ()

Goa State Government to blame for Sanguem Mine disaster

PREETU NAIR, preetu_nair@gomantaktimes.com

January 2006

SANGUEM: Crisis is not new to residents in Dhargini. Even before the "man-made" landslide killed six innocent souls, the villagers had written letters, warning various government authorities that sooner or later the "violent action" witnessed in Saleli would be repeated in Dhargini. The reason: sheer indifference on the part of government authorities to address the genuine problems of the villagers.

The villagers wrote a letter on March 22, 2006 to Mamlatdar, Executive Engineer Water Resource Department, Bhati Sarpanch, Director of Directorate of Mines and Industries, Chairman Goa Pollution Control Board and Sanguem PI complaining (a copy of which is available with GT) against M/S Timblo Ltd. for operating beneficiation plant "illegally" at Dhargini-Bhati which was causing tremendous dust and noise pollution and water scarcity. In the letter, they clearly stated, "We have lost the limits of our tolerance and don't expect us to tolerate the atrocities any further. We request to take measures to stop the illegal operation of the mine and also stop the operation of the plant between 7 pm and 8 am and further to restore the rivulet, wells, plantation and conditions of our houses to its original position".

The inaction on the part of the government officials and their failure to address people's woes despite several reminders, had forced the villagers to write a strong letter to the government officials, including the Chief Secretary, South Goa Collector and Quepem Deputy Collector. "It is painful that though no action was taken to our petition (in January 2006), false and manipulated complaints from the Company officials were entertained at Sanguem police and villagers were harassed by frequent visits of police at our residence," the villagers alleged.

According to the villagers, the "illegal" operation of the beneficiation plant at Dhargini Bhati, "causes tremendous pollution, nuisance and water scarcity". "The operation of mine illegally below the water table has led to water scarcity in the village. We are dependent on the water supplied by the mine owners and during holidays we don't get water. The village has a tap connection, but the tap is dry," alleged villager Babi Velip.

"We are suffering because of the illegal operation of the beneficiation plant by M/S Timblo. Initially, the plant was operated only during the daytime. However, recently the operation of the plant is made round the clock, thereby making lives of the villagers around the plant miserable", he added.

Dhargini residents also allege that despite several complaints to various government authorities, they have no relief. On the contrary, they are troubled and threatened by the mining lobby with the help of government officials, the residents alleged. "Besides, air and sound pollution, the plant has created serious environmental and health hazard for the villagers. Yet no one is wanting to help us," complained Anil Gaonkar.

To add to their woes, the smoke and effluents emitted from the plant has destroyed the rivulet and wells in the village has dried. The cattle are slowly perishing and crops destroyed. "But the authorities are blindly overlooking all the aspects, despite the same being brought to their notice from time to time. The inaction on the part of Government officials and concerned departments is beyond our understanding," added Harichandra Velip.

Well, call it a warning or wake up call for the government authorities. But the fact remains that there is an urgent need for the government to go beyond the obvious and address people's woe. Added Velip, "Don't test our patience and compel us to come on the streets or take law in our hand. We shall be compelled to do so if the authorities don't act suitably soon".

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