Goan convention in London to discuss environment degradation back home

(IANS) Thousands of Goans scattered all over the world will converge in London next week to voice concerns over rampant mining and corruption in Goa and issues related to job security and unemployment faced by the diaspora.

The Global Goans Convention (GGC), scheduled to begin in Britain July 22, is being hosted by diaspora groups in association with the Goa government and is being held in tandem with the UK Goan festival.

Eddie Fernandes, a London-based spokesperson for the GGC, said that the brazen destruction of mountains and water-bodies in Goa's hinterland caused by mining was a cause of concern amongst the diaspora and that it needed to be tackled, "before it is too late for Goa".

"This is an issue which needs addressing before it is too late for Goa. The rampant illegal mining taking place in Goa is a cause for concern. We are fortunate having Carmen Miranda, a mining activist in London. She has been making representations in Goa and Delhi too," Eddie told IANS.

Carmen Miranda, a former regional director of the Panos Institute, has been lobbying for an end to indiscriminate and illegal mining in Goa, which is literally a Rs.6,000 crore industry.

Conservative estimates put Goa's illegal mining industry at nearly 18 percent of the 45,000 million metric tonnes output, according to government data.

According to Eddie, the GGC, which will see thousands of expat Goans from the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and Africa converge in London for the three-day event, will also see the community connecting with their roots and culture.

"As this coincides with the 50th anniversary of Goa's independence, this is the main theme. Other objectives are to celebrate Konkan culture and to discuss some of the problems in Goa today," he said.

Several thousand Goans live in Britain and are connected through the parent Goan Association (UK) and also through smaller networks linked to their roots in Goan villages and the GGC will help bring them all under one umbrella and help confront issues affecting not only their home state but also the country they now live in.

"The Goans in Europe concern themselves with issues within the communities they live. Issues which affect their everyday lives politically, socially and economically. Some of the issues are job security, care provision for the elderly, inflation, indiscipline in schools and with youth," he said.

"Regarding Goa, they are concerned about corruption, garbage, sewage, mining, power shortages, safety standards and bureaucracy," Eddie added.