Goa has a long history with the mining industry. There were hushed whispers that Jains living in Cudnem used to extract gold in Goa. The existence of iron ore mines was known to the Portuguese from the early 1700s, but it was hushed up for fear of invasion by others. However, iron ore was extracted through the entire Portuguese period by certain groups, notably the tribe known as Dovolos, based in Navelim and other areas of Salcette. Mining, as a major occupation in Goa, went on until 2014. In 2015, a few mining companies managed to get renewed licenses, however, as of the 15th of March 2018, mining has once again been stopped entirely.
Chaos in Panjim city over Supreme Court’s order to shut down mining in the state
The city of Panjim was turned into chaos today. Hundreds of people dependent on mining in Goa defied prohibitory orders in the state Capital Panaji, blocked entry and exit points to the city and paralyzed traffic while protesting against a Supreme Court order that brought mining to a halt in the state.
Last month, the Supreme Court passed an order stating that the 88 re-issued mining licenses, in 2015, were illegal. This, in turn, led to everything coming to a complete standstill on the 15th of March.
As a result, those affected planned a protest in the capital city against this perceived threat to their livelihood. Hundreds came out to protest and blocked entry and exit points out of the city. Traffic was paralyzed during the latter half of the day. The National Highway 17 was paralyzed for more than two hours with no way for traffic to ply with ease. Tourists missed flights, ambulances were left stranded and complete chaos reigned supreme.
Goa’s PWD Minister, Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar even appealed to the protestors to avoid creating a stir. In the presence of TCP Minister as well as Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral, Dhavalikar assured them that the Union minister Nitin Gadkari who was arriving in Goa today evening would help to find a satisfactory solution. The agitators refused to move from the spot. These included women as well.
Why the protest happened
The Supreme Court’s order put an end to all alleged illegal mining activities in the state. It further stated that fresh leases will be issued only after companies get environment clearances. The court’s order came on a plea saying the renewal had been done in haste to avoid following new rules that mandated auction.
The government plans to auction these leases. All those affected have demanded that the government should move the central government or Supreme Court for the resumption of mining in the interim period.
The protest was to start earlier in the day but was delayed to prevent inconveniencing students answering Class XII exams.
Information credit – TOI