In this period, when politically mining is on top of the agenda, perhaps one could also look into the adverse impact of mining on environment. This is a case study of Goa.
Bellary in Karnataka is famous (or should it be infamous) for mining and till recently Supreme Court had banned the same in the district. Bellary with an area of 8447 sq Km has 132 mines, while Goa with only 3302 sq km area has 336 mines (with 90% being active). The effects are being felt by rural population.
One of the villages, Shirago in North Goa, has 3 mines. Villagers reminisce the past when the hills and plains were once lush with rice, cashew, mango, kokum plantations and medicinal herbs. It had seven lakes and 100 odd perennial streams. Now all, but one lake, have dried up. Mining pits as deep as 60 metre below the sea level has led to saline water ingress into the groundwater. Trucks laden with iron ore pass every two minutes on the main road exiting the village, leaving a perpetual trail of dust in the air. This story is being repeated in different parts of Goa.
Mining has caused havoc on drinking water. More than 27 mines operate in the catchment area of Mandovi, the State’s largest river. Huge mounds of iron ore line the bank as it is cost-effective for mine-owners to load them directly into barges for shipping to China. As per a report by the National Institute of Oceanography, due to runoffs from riverside mining, 70,000 tonnes of iron particulates get deposited in Mandovi every year. The story repeats itself across 10 other major rivers. As per a PWD report, Khandepar River, which supplies water to 30% population of Goa, has turbidity level 10 times the capacity of its water treatment plant.
CSE’s report on mining had documented painstakingly, how present day mining has degraded local environment while the people hardly benefited from any major economic benefits. It cited state after state which basically relied on mining as its major source of income were also the States which had low per capita income. Is Goa where mining has taken a major leap after 2003 moving in a similar direction?
-based on a report in Indian Express