With hope in their hearts and prayer on their lips, 3,00,000 Goans await their day of reckoning on April 15th, hoping that the honourable Supreme Court gives them something to keep floating.
With hope in their hearts and prayer on their lips, 3,00,000 Goans await their day of reckoning on April 15th, hoping that the honourable Supreme Court gives them something to keep floating. What is also required is that the Government of Goa and Central Government take proactive and positive stand in the matter which shall enable the resumption of mining activities in Goa enabling them to provide for their families once again.
This situation of dismay and prayers started on 7th February 2018 when the worst fears more than 3 lakh people, dependent on mining industry in the State of Goa came true when the Apex Court orderdered cancelation of all the mining leases in the state and closure of all mining operations from 16th March 2018.
The Mining Industry which at one point of time was contributing lion’s share to the state’s economy and was the largest employment generator of the State was reduced to a pale shadow of its former self. After the shock of 2012 when mining was stopped for a period of 3 years, the industry was just getting onto its feet when the order of Supreme Court jolted the entire ecosystem.
Those whose fates and livelihoods depended on the mining industry were again left wondering as to who will hold the fort to protect their livelihoods and the futures of their children. It was at this stage that the idea of Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF) germinating in the minds of people. A forum which shall act a voice of those men and women who have toiled hard shedding blood sweat and tears to make ends meet in the industry which had provided them with an opportunity not only to provide for their families but also for allowed them to dream about better lives for their progenies.
GMPF began a popular mobilisation program in Goa which involved not only drumming up support for the demands of mining resumption in the State but also educating the masses regarding the historical issue which was long pending before the Supreme Court of India with respect to the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) - the “Abolition Act”.
Mining Industry in the state has been working for more than 100 years and has been supporting the livelihood hundereds of thousands of Goans. Mining previously was through mining concessions (operated till May 1987), when Parliament by a Special law being the Abolition Act, abolished the concessions and by legal fiction deemed the same to be mining leases governed by the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Although the Abolition Act was passed in 1987, the lease period was declared retrospectively from December 20, 1961 i.e. after the Goa’s Liberation.
After the stoppage of mining activities in the State, the mining dependent population undertaken various measures to highlight their plight and demand for immediate resumption of mining activities which included having corner meeting through the length and breadth of the State starting with mining belts to mobilize popular support to their demand for resumption of mining operation in the state. GMPF delegations have been to Delhi multiple times to meet and appraise various national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, regarding the issues afflicting the Goan mining industry and people in Goa.
Considering the larger public sentiment and benefit at large, a private member’s resolution in the State Assemble during the 2018 monsoon assembly session requested the Central and State Government to take appropriate steps to tackle the economic and social chaos that has befallen the people engaged in the mining industry in Goa for their livelihoods.
The said resolution was taken up for discussion on the floor of the house on 3rd August 2018, during the course of the discussions there was a unanimous support from the house for the resolution and as such every one supported resumption of mining activities in the State of Goa in the interest of protection of livelihood of lakhs of Indian citizens residing in Goa
Armed with the said resolution Hon’ble Ex. Chief Minister Late Shri. Manohar Parrikar had on 7th August 2018 personally met the Hon’ble PM Shri. Modiji, and explained the situation in Goa in detail. Thereafter, he also had attended the meeting with Group of Ministers (GoM) on the subject matter. The Late Shri Manohar Parrikar had written to the Union Mines Ministry on three different occasions requesting a legislative cure to the problems afflicting the mining industry in the State and to protect the livelihood of 3 lakh people in the State
With each passing day it was increasingly looking unlikely that a legislative cure would be brought by the Union Mines Ministry. With a bonafide intention to protect the livelihood of Goans, GMPF was not left with any other recourse but to approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court through an Impleadment Application (IA) in the long pending Abolition Act Matter.
The Union Mines Ministry too filed an early hearing application in the said matter. After a year long wait, the three lakh mining dependents in the state of Goa anxiously await 15th April 2019, the date on which the Supreme Court of India has fixed the hearing in the matter.
[Disclaimer: The author is the president of Goa Mining People’s Front. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Business Television India (BTVI)]