Civil society accused of targeting mining-dependent people


A day after environmentalists and social activists pointed fingers at state government and mining lobby for the ugly incident reported in Margao on Saturday, last week, the trade association of mine owners and exporters has accused the civil society members of increasingly targeting the people affected with the mining closure, despite the fact that they are jobless for last six months.
 In a press statement issued on Tuesday, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) has said that ‘instead of blaming mining-dependent people for voicing genuine concerns and seeking their right to livelihood, it is imperative that the issue be addressed and resolved on a war footing by all the concerned stakeholders’.
Around 100-odd mining dependent people on March 2 heckled activists and disrupted a seminar on M B Shah Commission report organized by Goa RTI forum. The green and social activists from the state had accused government for provoking the incident.  Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had refused to comment on the incident. 
“We are deeply concerned that mining-affected people are increasingly being targeted and sidelined by civil society bodies in various mining-related discussions,” GMOEA stated.
GMOEA has said that they were surprised to read reports in certain sections of the media alleging the involvement of mine owners or mining companies in the disruption of the RTI forum meeting.
“At the outset, allow us to clarify that the GMOEA does not condone or support violence in any form. The allegations against mine owners are baseless and possibly spread by vested interests,” the press release adds. 
CM: Inquiry ordered 
“I have asked the police to inquire into this. I am expecting the report  tomorrow,” the chief minister said, stressing that nobody will be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
He said that all had a right to protest “even shout slogans” but not take the law into their own hands.
…civil society hits back
PANJIM: Civil society on Tuesday reacted with indignation at the “high-handedness” of the ‘mining dependents’ with two civil society organisations ‘Utt Goenkara” and the Goa Bachao Abhiyan condemning the incident and the government’s reaction to it. 
Addressing a press conference Prakash Bandodkar of the Utt Goenkara said that it was an utter failure on the part of the government to have allowed such an incident to have happened. 
“It is an attack on us. We had supported the mining affected and had even sympathise with them. But they are being backed by the mine owners. This should not happen. They should be attacking the government and the mine owners for putting them in this situation, not the activists,” Prakash Bandodkar of Utt Goenkara said. 
Utt Goenkara also warned that they would file an intervention petition in the Supreme Court demanding that the SC not give permission to start a single mine until all the farmers who are yet to receive compensation for loss of their crops due to mining are reimbursed. 
Utt Goenkara will also organise a protest outside the Sesa factory in Bicholim and thereafter file petition. 
The GBA too condemned the attack. 
“It is known that buses were organized to bring people to site and disrupt the meeting to turn the issue into an fictitious mining affected people vs activists. As activists selflessly fought for justice against rampant greed and corruption, they also seek justice for the mining affected people where the errant owners need to compensate those they have cheated in the process of illegal mining,” the GBA said in a statement. 
“Of late there has been infiltration of vested interests in all social groups to create confusion and chaos, to pit one organisation against another. The most dangerous trend is being to encourage lawlessness and vandalism to thwart freedom of expression. What happened on Saturday was nothing short of terrorism sponsored by vested interests. We insist that these terrorists who cheated the state and its people and continue to terrorize law abiding people in a democracy, be jailed immediately as they are the threats to law and order,” the GBA said.  [H]