MAYEM FARMERS STILL AWAIT COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGE TO THEIR FARMLANDS

Advocate Jatin Naik of All India Kisan Sabha (Goa Committee) briefing media people about destroyed agricultural fields and horticultural lands in the Mayem area. Farmers whose fields have been affected by dumping of mining rejects and chemical leeching are still awaiting compensation of Rs6 crore due to them from destructive mining companies

By Our Special Correspondent

DO farmers live the saddest lives in this country and also in Goa where there is as tendency to think that farmers live a good life! Goa started out as a predominantly farming state until 1961 when various governments concentrated on industrialising the state with mining and boosting industrial estates and tourism.
Over the years farming has taken a back seat and it’s anyone’s calculation how much farm land has been destroyed by mining operations. It’s said the maximum damage has taken place in the taluka of Bicholim where Vedanta and Chowgule mines are located – in fact, recently 600 farming family members whose farming and horticultural lands had been affected by mining dumps staged a protest in Bicholim town.
Speaking to media people on December 8, 2021 in Panaji advocate Jatin Naik, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (Goa) and Krishna K Gadekar (AIKS secretary) detailed how farmers have been agitating since 2008. That’s when the villages were forced to organize themselves under the banner of AIKS which is spearheading farmers struggles the country over. The issues may be summed up:
• Over the years farmlands have been destroyed by mining rejects and effluents and waste water entering the fields and ruining crops, especially during the rainy season.
• All water bodies and streams in Mayem village are clogged by mining rejects with the main Mayem lake itself affected along with Gaovghaneche and Tirthbag lakes
• Orchard lands too have been similarly affected courtesy flowing mining rejects and leaching effluents
• Water sources have suffered due to mining operations with water levels coming down, so much so that they are facing a shortage of water for irrigating their fields and orchards — which are drying up
• All the above has also affected the fertility of the farming lands and in some places to the extent of 40% to 50%. This has been noted by the Zonal Agricultural office which has surveyed the areas concerned and made a note of the same in its official reports
In fact, the Agricultural departments and their officers are well aware of the suffering of farming families in the wards of Mayem village, representations to government have been made since 2008 and with matters constantly being raised before the Mamlatdar, Bicholim who filed the cases for crop losses against the mining companies, which are mainly Chowgule & Co and Sesa Goa (erstwhile Dempo mining corporation) after thorough investigations and joint discussions between the AIKS, Mayem unit and the two mining companies.
Says an AIKS brief, “About 300 farmers got crop loss benefits from the first case against two mining companies and thereafter more farmers joined the struggle against mining companies and AIKS Mayem Unit filed more cases before Mamlatdar of Bicholim for crop losses for the years 2010 to 2013 wherein Chowgule & Co involving another mining company M/s Rajaram Bandekar, for crop losses. This case is now sub-judice before the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay at Panaji, Goa. The case for crop loss for 2014 to 2017 is proceeding before the Mamlatdar at Bicholim.”
The AIKS Mayem Unit is demanding the rehabilitation of farmlands of paddy as well as horticulture fields from the mining companies, rehabilitation of water bodies affected by mining rejects in Mayem village and increasing their storage capacity by deepening them and finally, removing clogged up water streams, de-silting and deepening of waterways and canals supplying water to the farmlands for irrigation purposes.
Also the demands should be fulfilled by the companies through scientific ways and means and not just through machines “mechanically by dozing and digging. The above process is to be done by a process of screening, filtering, separation, etc, the fields should be cleared of boulders, stones, shrubs and trees which have grown along with the mining dust and rejects.”
As is known the Supreme Court has quashed the mining leases of the mining companies and therefore the companies concerned will deny responsibility in reclamation of the wasted farmlands and water bodies. In such situations isn’t it the responsibility of the State government of Goa to rehabilitate and restore ruined farmlands and water bodies, and recover the costs from the mining companies responsible?
The farmlands in the vicinity surrounding the mining leases have been affected for the last many years right from 1940 onwards when exploitation of iron ore and manganese ore started in Goa. All that farmers have reaped is death to farming in the last 70 years all over Goa, wherever mining has taken place in rapid, exploitative, irresponsible ways.
ON behalf of the farmers the AIKS (Goa) demands that their compensation claims be settled as a precondition for any resumption of mining and mining-related activities by the concerned mining companies, According to Adv Jatin Naik and Krishna K Gadekar although 30% of the compensation has come in at least Rs6 crore is still pending for the last six years from 2011 to 2019 and “more than 700 farming families in Mayem itself need this compensation.”
In this matter of farmers facing a grim situation, Vivek Monteiro, who had come from Mumbai to help resolve mining-farmers issues, said that AIKS also extends support to farmers all over Goa and in India, and especially for the brave struggle of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha in the country which recently won a history victory compelling the NDA-led BJP government to withdraw the three anti-farmer, pro-corporate farm laws.
Mr Monteiro said that these laws were “anti-farmers, anti-kisan, anti-people, anti-national” and they were also demanding for withdrawal of police cases filed against the agitating farmers by State and Central governments. In fact, the farming bodies would like to build up a mass public-supported agitations across Goa to demand for the resignation of the Central Minister of State for Home, Ajay Mishra Teni, who should also be charged and stands accused in the case to do with the killing of four farmers and a journalist the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in Uttar Pradesh.
He said that is no longer a farmers issue now but for a Union minister to threaten first and then the killings carried out is not acceptable to the people of India, “The prime minister should ask the minister Ajay Mishra Teni to resign.”

One thought on “MAYEM FARMERS STILL AWAIT COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGE TO THEIR FARMLANDS”

  1. Corrupt Government Officials are the reason for Goans sufferings. They take months or even years to pass one simple file of Goans, which require only few days to pass. Without bribes they even not looking at the Goans face, forget about completing the file of the Goans. Whenever Goans goes to the office, next chair employee says that he or She is on outdoor work. But actually he or she is at home or doing some of its personal business outdoor. They must be punctual and if he or she is gone out or on leave then there must be a replacement to sign or work on his or her behalf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

72 − = 69