How the mining ban has hit Goa’s truck economy

Almost every house in the vicinity of an iron ore mine in Goa’s Sanguem, Sattari and Bicholim talukas is likely to have a 10-tonne tipper truck parked in its backyard. Some have two, three or even four trucks parked. In all, there were about 25,000 such trucks serving the iron ore industry in Goa .

Until recently, these trucks ferried ore from the mines to ports and other locations.

That changed in September, when mining operations came to a standstill after a temporary ban imposed by the state government. The trucks are now idle.

On December 7, an expert panel set up by the Supreme Court recommended cancellation of 42 iron ore mining licences in Goa.

The truck economy was one way for the mining industry to share the spoils of this highly “ecology-insensitive” industry with the local people. Mainline companies such as Sesa Goa, Fomento and Lithoferro offer trucking contracts to locals affected by the mining.

The iron ore industry has been accused of destroying the ecology of the region. Anthony Fernandes, a resident of Codli in South Goa district, has been protesting the destruction of water tables by mining near his house. The well on his property goes dry in March. His daughter Pearl, 21, has been writing to newspapers complaining about the practices of the mining industry.
Families living around mines in Goa have invested in tipper trucks with the help of mining companies.
Yet, there are two trucks parked in the property. Fernandes says they belong to his sister. “They do not have space to park,” he says.

Apart from causing pollution and blocking roads for hours on end, the trucks were said to be responsible for one death a day in the state.

How does the mining industry share its profits through the trucks? A truck costs around Rs 12-14 lakh, and EMI on the loans cost around Rs 30,000 or so every month. These loans are guaranteed by the mining companies. The owner of the truck easily earns around Rs 12,000-Rs18,000 a day for about 160-170 days in a year. After paying EMIs, the driver’s salary and the fuel costs, the truck owner makes Rs 16-18 lakh a year. That is around Rs 1.5 lakh a month. In some of the busier mining areas it is even more.

In addition to trucks, the locals often also invest in mining equipment. “They do not even need to buy. They can lease it (equipment) and then (sub-)lease it to mining companies at an even higher fee,” says Vijay Kumar Uday Desai, a farmer at Pissurlem.

There are also around 400 barge owners transporting ore.

“This easy money is destroying us,” says Desai. While he protests mining, members of his family have invested in trucks. “We were a group of nine friends in school, and today five of them are dead. The easy money led to drinking and gambling that killed them,” he says.
It is common to see tipper trucks parked in lanes due to the lack of parking space.
Desai also explains how gambling has taken firm root in Goa and how temples actually have to auction sites at fairs to gambling organisers. There are so many gambling organisers and so much demand for such games at fairs that auctions are the only way out.

Truck and barge owners are in a quandary now that mining has come to a halt and are seeking assistance from the state government. They have approached Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for help to repay their loans and develop alternative means of livelihood.

Some respite came from outside the state in early December. More than 100 of the trucks have been contracted to carry garbage in Bangalore. BVG India Ltd, which has the contract for garbage removal in Bangalore, sent its representative to Goa to sign up the idle trucks. The trucks are now getting painted green, the designated colour of garbage disposal vehicles in Bangalore.

Courtesy : BT

Bullet Trains are coming to India : Goa MP

Union Minister of State for Railways informed  Shantaram Naik ,Rajya Sabha M.P. from Goa in a written reply on Monday that “for introduction of High Speed Passenger trains in the country, Ministry of Railways have identified seven corridors for carrying out feasibility studies. “
Government of India through the Ministry of Railways has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kingdom of Spain, Government of the People’s Republic of China & The Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology of the Republic of Austria, for cooperation in various areas of rail technology, minister said.

Minister further said that for three corridors, feasibility studies have been completed, feasibility studies are in progress for two corridors and in balance two corridors, Consultant to carry out feasibility study is yet to be engaged, minister further said.

The status of three corridors, where feasibility studies have been completed, is as under:

(i) Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad –650 km – The Final Report submitted by the Consultant has been accepted by the Ministry of Railways. The construction cost is estimated to be Rs.49076 crores, and cost of rolling stock as Rs.6783 crores (both at 2009 price level). The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) comes to 11.42%.

(ii) Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi -Patna – 991 km –The Consultant has submitted the Final Report to Ministry of Railways and the same is under examination.

(iii) Howrah-Haldia – 135 km – The Consultant has submitted the Final Report to Ministry of Railways and the same is under examination.


Goa CM Manohar Parrikar chosen Indian of the Year 2012 in politics category

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was on Wednesday chosen the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2012 in the politics category. The IIT alumnus won the award for being the architect of the win of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader faced a tough contest in the politics category with the likes of young leader Akhilesh Yadav, veteran Parkash Singh Badal and dynamic politician Jairam Ramesh.

Apart from Parrikar, the other nominees in the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2012 politics category included Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken for making consistent efforts to reform Indian sports, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for scripting his party’s win in India’s most politically critical state, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for being one of the most dynamic and no-nonsense ministers in UPA-II.

The other nominees were Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan for shoring up some of his party’s image through personal probity and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for successfully defying a four decade anti-incumbency tradition in the state.

Goa churches to preserve historical artefacts

The Portuguese era artefacts lying in various churches across the state will now be given a new lease of life by Archdiocese of Goa, which is toying with the concept of ‘museums in each of the churches’.

The Church has decided that the Christian heritage artefacts, which are securely lying in various churches, will be preserved by forming special heritage cells, that would be manned by experts.

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao recently told a gathering near Panaji that every parish (village level community) can take care of the age-old articles lying in the churches. This heritage needs to be “protected, preserved and conserved” in the form of museum, he said. “If needed it should be restored so that it can be passed on to the next generation,” Ferrao said.

Christianity arrived in Goa centuries back during Portuguese regime. The state has 27 per cent catholic population, who worship through 180-odd churches and chapels spread across Goa.

All these structures are architecturally rich and house the monuments, which give a peep into the Christian heritage. The archbishop said that “absence of professionals could be disastrous for the protection and restoration of these artefacts.” “The church is not primarily a custodian of art and architecture. The mission of the church is fundamentally spiritual. A mighty outpouring of human artistic creativity entire to the glory and worship of God has resulted in the Church becoming, defacto, the custodian of immense treasure of culture and artistic heritage,” he added. The archbishop has asked all the parishes to make an inventory of such artefacts.

Courtesy: samaylive

Fresh trouble for Goa mining industry

In fresh trouble for the mining industry in Goa, the pollution control board has refused operating consent to all 107 mining leases in the state under the Air and Water Pollution Control Act. Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), in its order yesterday said that since the case against these mining leases is pending with the Supreme Court, their application for consent stands withdrawn. The apex court is hearing the petition filed by NGO Goa Foundation against the illegal mining activity in the state, pending which all mines have been asked to stop operations.

GSPCB Chairman Jose Manuel Noronha, who heard the petitions filed by the mining firms before the board, said that the apex court has halted the mining operations, the board cannot renew the consent under air and water pollution act to these mining leases. The consent to operate under these Acts have expired on 31 July, 2012. The mining firms will have to re-apply once SC decides on the matter, Mr Noronha said. The state’s mining industry is in doldrums after the SC halted the mining operations asking the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) to investigate into the illegal mining.

Courtesy: thestatesman