Church wants withdrawl of cases against anti-mining activists

Panaji: Goa Church has demanded that the government withdraw all the criminal cases filed against anti-illegal mining activists across these years as their stand is vindicated after the tabling of the Justice M B Shah commission report.

The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a wing of Goa Church, has also expressed its worry about the people dependent on mining who are facing huge financial debts and the threat of losing everything due to the current crisis impending over the trade.

Supreme Court in its recent verdict halted transportation and extraction of iron ore in Goa, pending report from the centrally empowered committee which will probe into the illegal mining scenario in the state following Shah Commission's findings.

CSJP executive secretary Fr Savio Fernandes has said that being sympathetic to the cause of innocent victims of mining crisis, the Council also expresses its concern over the number of criminal cases by the government and the mining lobby – pending in various courts – in a bid to silence innocent locals who dared protest against the violation of their human rights by the mining industry.

"While the Government considers proposals for compensating those who have lost their livelihoods due to the ban on mining, the Council demands that all pending criminal cases against anti-mining activists be withdrawn as their stand against the excesses and illegalities in mining is now established by the Shah Commission report and found reasonable. This is reflected in the ban imposed by the Supreme Court," he added.

 The Council has also shared the concerns and distress of the Goan community due to social and economic consequences of the suspension of mining operations in the state.

"The Council expresses its concern for the thousands of mine workers who have lost their livelihood all of a sudden, and the small time entrepreneurs (single truck owners) who are facing huge financial debts and the threat of losing everything due to their inability to repay their bank loans," he said.

This unexpected occasion is a clarion call for the Goan community to rally through a humane and compassionate response towards many of those innocent people struck by misfortune due to no fault of theirs, while they also explore alternative avenues for their employment, the CSJP has said.

As the Goan people are in the grip of this dilemma between mining and livelihood, Fr Fernandes said the Council addresses the Goan community and its policy makers to reiterate the invaluable principles on development.

He said that the current mining crisis is a wake-up call for the State Government and the people of Goa to relook at all economic policies for their sustainability and adherence to human rights seriously.