16 Nov 2014

There you go development !! The other side of Goa

“Nilesh a local agitator was beaten till he fell unconscious with his broken hand.”
 “3 cameras of Mr. Rama Velip, were consecutively broken while taking picture of illegal expansion of mine, and he was also interrogated by intelligence in Quepem police station for his movement against mining.”

The mine wash affecting the cultivated land in the downstreams
 These are some incidence of life threatening actions against whistle blower of extensive and illegal mining in Eastern Goa. Mining a highly profitable business of iron ore has taken a toll on people’s life nearby mines, post liberalization of economy. Goa second smallest state by area, contributes 60% of total iron ore export from India. Iron ore production in Goa has always been 100% export oriented. The first export of 100 tons was in 1947. The figure rose to 1 million tons by 1954, 10 million tons by 1971, and 13-15 million tons in the 1980s. Today, due to the high demand of even low grade ore from China, the quantity has reached 33 million tons.

Mining talukas Quepem, Sanguem, Satari, Bicholim have face the jolt of degrading living conditions due to suspended ore dust, degrading potable water, devastated agriculture, frequent accidents caused by speeding trucks and abysmal health conditions causing miscarriages among women and bronchitis to common people. No doubt the mining is generating income for local people but on cost of poor health and breaking society. Inspite of the discord in the mine areas government is considering mining as backbone of Goan economy based on three myths.
Myth 1: Mine brings development; out of 72 mining districts of India 16 mining districts are poorest. In Goa development in mine areas is of only roads to ease the movement of ore to nearest jetties or ports. In contrast to this health service are intact in mining areas inspite of increasing case of bronchitis, asthma and paralysis. Presently there are 172 sub-urban health centre, 30 dispensaries, 123 private hospitals and 24 primary health centre in Goa and while in mine areas they are only 65, 13, 16 and 8 respectively.
The irony of development
Myth 2: Mining generates employment; due to heavy mechanization in mining lease, they don’t need people anymore. A report of National Council for Applied Economic Research provides that mining provides income to 28,750 people Goa out of total work force of 582,274 and out of which not more than 4000 have perennial employment (mere 0.69%). In contrast, tourism industry provides employment to 84,150 (making 14%).
Myth 3: Mining generates state revenue which in returns is used for welfare schemes; mining share in state GDP is 5% in contrast to tourism 14%. The mining stakeholders pay a royalty of Rs 10 per ton of ore and sell it at an average rate of Rs. 5000. The royalty can be escaped by back door or fly by night export of ore as it happened in Karnataka. If a transparent check of irregularities is done will surely reveal a scam bigger than Karnataka.
The issue is on toil; the current Union government on one hand is making the country more conducive to investment and on the other hand is sending our natural bounty to be abused by multinationals and local goons. Union Minster of State for Environment Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javedkar cleared up 240 projects in initial 3 months of government, the time which is not enough to conduct Environment impact assessment and public hearings in the area of projects. With the tag line of “Make in India”, the current government is all set to take the nation on a development path and growth competent to its neighboring giant (ironically some see this as come Make PROFIT in India). But the question arises what is the cost on which such a growth will be taken. The madness towards achieving high GDP growth rate is egregious in nature which will lead further the huge impact on climate our surroundings and ultimately human beings and also affect the consistency and sustainability of this growth. I am scornful about the development paradigm and longevity of this planet if the madness kept rolling.
When I keep on looking for the answers to alternatives, it reminds me of these lines from a song.

“ ..the answer my friend in blowin’ in the wind”

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