GMPF demands for clarity on timelines for the resumption of mining activity in the state as it fears further delay mining resumption due to ensuing assembly election.
Expresses concern over the possible exploitation of people through Contract mining system in the bill for formation of ‘Goa Mineral Development Corporation’ presented in Current assembly session.
Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), an umbrella organisation of mining dependents in the state of Goa has urged Goa Government to come up with a clear role of “Goa Mineral Development Corporation” that will ensure early resumption of mining in the state and how it will create employment in the state. It is a big concern that the bill introduced in the current assembly session for forming a ‘Goa Mineral Development Corporation’ has shown no intent on revival and retention of the employment of Goa Mining dependents in a sustainable manner. GMPF strongly demands to present the clear road map with goal to specifically revive 3 lakh livelihoods impacted due to mining stoppage. GMPF stated, without any commitment on protecting the interest of people who have suffered due to the mining stoppage, we believe the corporation will do nothing about the livelihoods of 3 lakh mining dependents who have been pushed to the state of poverty and helplessness for the last decade.
GMPF expressed apprehension that the new system will lead to injustice to the mining dependents without clear intent explicitly spelt out in the bill to protect local interests and may otherwise lead to the introduction of contract system which will attract the engagement of the cheap workforce from outside the state or forced exploitation of local people by vesting the powers in wrong hands. The ambiguous bill is most likely to bring in system of Contracting and sub-contracting to kill the trade unions that work for the rights of the workers including job security, sustainability and better renumerations. The trucks owners who are currently directly engaged by mining companies will be forced to work under ‘fly by night’ contractor risking their right to the hard-earned money.
GMPF has demanded for a consultative approach in the decision-making process for restarting mining in the state with representatives of mining bodies such as Trade Union, Truck Unions, Barge unions and other allied bodies. This will ensure smooth implementation and execution of plans by creating confidence among the people. This is extremely necessary as there can be some aspects which can go against the interest of said local stakeholders who are important fabrics in the entire value-chain of mining in Goa.
Demanding for clarity over the proposal to form Mining Corporation, Puti Gaonkar, President, GMPF said, “The recent bill in Goa assembly session on formation of Goa Mineral Development Corporation at the outset may sounds fancy to many people but there is transparency required on how this is going to enable early resumption of mining in Goa and restore the livelihood lost which is more vital in current circumstances. The bill does not spell out any intent about protecting interest of local people by creating employment but rather creates ambiguity of possible exploitation of people in the mining belt. We want the Government to be serious about resumption of Goa Mining and not waste any more time by indulging into political gimmicks in view of upcoming state assembly elections. The state should explicitly make it clear in its bills its policies about direct recruitment of employees and truck services avoiding middlemen and contractors. The current bills do not mention about induction of workers or trucks directly by corporation, so the interest of local people does not form a part of the bill. The Goans have faced lot of hardships because of repeated bans on mining in the last one decade and are now looking for stable and sustainable livelihoods. We want Govt. to provide concrete assurance to all Mining dependents about their livelihoods in any solution that is proposed. The Government is in continues consultation even with mining companies, political parties, NGOs etc but have failed to take consultation of actual stakeholder of mining belt like the trade union, truck owners union, barge owners and other ancillaries of mining industry. Government has to follow a consultative approach involving these stakeholders to bring in confidence among the mining dependent people.”
Mining in Goa is in doldrums since 2012 affecting over 3 lakhs livelihood. The initial ban was imposed on alleged financial and environmental irregularities. However, both these allegations were never established and had no place in arriving at any rulings by the Supreme Court but for aspect of authenticity and provisions in lease renewals process. The imbroglio on lease renewals or grants has resulted in mining stoppage in the state impacting over 3 lakhs livelihoods, pushing them to brink of poverty with no solution in sight for the last 3 years. GMPF has been urging both Central and State Governments to take appropriate steps including legislative measures to resume mining in the state atleast for part of the industry (88 leases) while the government implement any other solution as long term measure. GMPF plea for interim solution for protecting the livelihood through legislative cure for atleast the operating leases have not found any favour at state or central level and the 3 lakhs of mining dependent people continues to suffer.