Residents threaten to move court over Digas mining bypass

Some 100 residents including farmers of Digas Panchawadi, Soddewado and Mharahgal in the Savordem area and representing around 700 families have threatened to move the High Court if the government does not decide on the alternative route suggested by them for the Digas mining bypass, which was promised by the government some four years ago.

The villagers are opposed to the bypass route in the government’s proposal. They have suggested another route, which they claim would be appropriate besides costing the government comparatively less in terms of money. As the government is yet to decide on the route, there is an uncertainty as to when the bypass would be constructed.

In a bid to save about two kilometres of paddy fields, mangroves and coconut plantations, and the Moissal dam from getting polluted, the residents led by Mr Seby Fernandes have threatened to take the matter to the High Court if the government does not go as per the villagers’ proposal.

"Rather than constructing the bypass through the paddy fields and mangroves, the best alternative is to have it 500 metres away from the government’s proposed route and take it around the village to the existing road," Mr Seby
Fernandes said.

The residents, on Friday, explained their difficulties to the Land Acquisition Officer, Gogol, GSIDC officer, Mr Joshi, nodal officer, LAO, Mr Hemant Dessai and other officials who were inspecting the proposed alignment of the mining bypass road in response to the villagers’ protest.

In their representation, the residents stated that the present route will destroy the settlement of hundreds of families living in the wards of Digas, Soddewado and Mharahgal. They claim that the other route suggested by them will save their homes, paddy fields and horticulture lands from being surrounded by mining activities on all sides and protect the fields and plantations from the mining siltation and dust. They also questioned the wisdom behind the present route proposed by the government as it passes through the fields and ends up in mangroves, far from the present loading points of seven jetties and the ore
storage yards.

Incidentally, it is learnt that patches of land on the government-proposed bypass route have been acquired by the miners and most of the houses of the three villages own tipper trucks. Unidentified sources among the protestors said that houses nearer to the stacking yards and loading points and affected by ore pollution have been compensated by
the miners.

In the submission made by them to the Land Acquisition Officer, the villagers have also pointed to various other issues concerning the mining bypass road, including the recent revelation regarding illegal mining and its implications on this large project costing the government a huge sum of money. The villagers have also said that their only source of drinking water, the Moissal dam be saved from getting polluted. The mining bypass is part of a mega highway network proposed by the government which starts at Ugem. [NT]