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Ore transportation needs better infra

Margao: Even as the issue of mining transportation is at a crisis point, over differences in transportation rates, between the mining firm, Vedanta, and the truck drivers’ associations, the state government has once again been found wanting in creating required infrastructure to ensure smooth transportation of mining extracts through the villages.On May 3, days before the mining season came to an end — during the monsoon break — locals led by Mission Bypass, a mining menace-affected people’s front, had confronted the deputy collector, Quepem, Prashant Shirodkar, protesting the “reckless” and “unregulated” mining transportation through villages.”You are there to take care of the safety of human lives, not to protect the interests of the mining lobby. People are losing their lives on killer mining roads and you allow mining transportation to violate all norms with impunity,”an agitated Pradip Kakodkar, convener of Mission Bypasss, had bluntly told Shirodkar.”We have lost all our patience. It’s nothing but mining terror that happens on these roads. You are forcing us to become terrorists. If the situation continues like this, don’t blame the villagers if they take to guns in the future,”Kakodkar said.
Kakodkar’s assertion had summed up the prevalent mood of villagers in South Goa’s mining belt at a time when mining had just been resumed after a three-year long hiatus. Kakodkar had pointed out that all the directives governing mining transportation were being violated with gross impunity, including the cap of 150 trips per day on mining trucks along the Quepem-Tilamol-Curchorem road.Five months later, as mining is set to resume in the new season, state authorities are silent about the steps taken to ensure strict enforcement of transportation rules and guidelines. Instead, to make matters worse, the government has allowed transportation from 6am to 7pm, with a break from 7.30am to 8.30am and 1pm to 2pm. Earlier, the timings for mining transportation were restricted from 8am to 6pm with the same break in intervals. Additionally, now the maximum speed for the transportation trucks has been increased to 45km per hour from the earlier 40km restriction.
The government has also failed miserably to take any steps in constructing the long-pending Uguem-Kapxem mining bypass road in Sanguem taluka. This bypass project was abandoned midway following the mining ban in 2012. At a meeting with anti-mining protesters last year, authorities had provided assurances that urgent steps would be taken by the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) to construct the bypass from Maskavrem to Uguem, Uguem to Guddemol, and Guddemol to Capxem.
Speaking to TOI on Wednesday, chairman of GSIDC, Deepak Pauskar, admitted that work on the mining bypass could not be started since clearances from the forest department was pending. “I have petitioned the Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar and the chief minister to follow up the matter with the forest department in Delhi. Once the clearance is obtained, we will start work on the Guddemol-Kapxem stretch. The phase from Uguem to Guddemol will no longer be required as most mines in that belt have already shut down. Besides, the road from Dharbandora to Sanvordem will be made into a four-lane,” Pauskar said.Kakodkar from Mission Bypass is not impressed. “The common man is silently watching the tricks played by the miners and the government. But his silence need not mean approval. When things go out of control, the fury of the common man will be fierce. If things do not improve, we may have to move the courts seeking safety for the lives of the common man,” he told TOI. [TOI]

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