Protests against mining trucks in Goa

February 9th, 2011 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Panaji, Feb 9 (IANS) After an eight-day hunger strike, anti-mining activists Wednesday marched to Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s house here and demanded building a special road for mining trucks, blamed for frequent road accidents and deaths. Kamat, who refused to meet the group at his private residence, later met the activists and reportedly assured them that a special bypass would be constructed for mining traffic.

Earlier in the day, 300 anti-mining activists from the sub-district of Curchorem, located 45 km from here, were halted metres away from the chief minister’s house as they shouted slogans against the government.

They were protesting the government decision to allow mining in south Goa and the uncontrolled transportation of iron ore to the Mormugao port in south Goa for export to China, Japan and other countries.

“Kamat has assured us that the four-laning of the existing highway would be halted immediately. He also said that the work on creating a by-pass to divert the mining traffic would start soon,” said Paresh Bhende, who has been leading the agitation.

The protesters alleged that the rashly driven mining trucks, on an average, killed at least one person a week.

“We staged a protest at the chief minister’s residence after he ignored the plight of youngsters from Curchorem who have been on a hunger strike for more than a week protesting the mining trucks,” Bhende said.

“It is a genuine demand. People are being killed. We are all at risk, with these overloaded and speeding mining trucks,” he added.

South Goa District Collector G.P. Naik has called a meeting of the law enforcement officials and officers of the mining department to sort out the mining-related transportation problems in Curchorem.

Illegal and unchecked mining is a sensitive issue in Goa, with both civil society groups and the opposition parties voicing their concern over the issue.

According to data submitted in the monsoon session of the state assembly, ore worth Rs.4,000 crore was illegally mined and exported from Goa annually.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that nearly 18 percent of Goa’s mining output comprised of illegally mined ore.

He accused Kamat, who is also the minister for mines, and his cabinet ministers for promoting illegal mining.

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