This people’s movement is posing a challenge to Goa’s mining mafia – by Amita Kanekar (Daily News & Analysis India – March 30, 2016)

The ironies of the so-called development of Goa are indeed unlimited. On the one hand, the government and elites of this state hard-sell it to India as a place of unlimited ‘good times’, to be used for holidaying, partying, drinking, gambling and so on , the price of which is paid in many ways by common Goans.

On the other, the Bahujan communities, esp. Bahujan Christians whose culture is sold as Goa’s tourism USP, are painted as anti-nationals by the Goan elites when they ask for their Konkani—i.e. Roman script Konkani—to be recognised as one of Goa’s languages, or even for English-medium education for their children.

As for the physical landscape of Goa, hyped as paradisiacal for consumption by largely Indian tourists, is disappearing before our very eyes.

Whether it is destructive tourism of the casino and golf course variety, ‘development’ projects like DefExpo, the cancerous growth of second homes and holiday homes eating up the hills, or a refusal to mine Goa’s mineral wealth in a transparent, sustainable and community-conscious way, Goa’s ruling elites, in close collaboration with those of India, seem determined to squeeze out the maximum profit in the shortest possible time, leaving a desert behind.

But they are in a fight. Slowly and steadily, the many small and scattered oppositions are gathering strength, some with both better vision as well as concrete plans to replace the destructive and neo-liberal developmental policies currently in place.

The struggle at Caurem village is one such, where a people’s movement to create a sustainable and equitable mining industry is growing despite virulent opposition from the powers-that-be, the latest being a brutal assault on one of the leaders of the movement inside the Sada Sub-Jail.

On March 21, Ravindra Velip, tribal activist and panch of Caurem village, was arrested along with other villagers, after they stopped trucks transporting ore from the Fomento-owned mine in the village. They were released on bail but arrested again the next day, when they once again stopped the trucks. This time, they refused bail and were hence remanded to judicial custody in Sada Sub-Jail, Mormugao.

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