Muddied water floods North Goa

Unplanned mining blamed for turning monsoon rains into sludge

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
Published: Saturday 15 August 2009

MAYABHUSHAN NAGVENKARHEAVY monsoon rains mixed with silt from the mines in North Goa damaged about 100 homes in Bicholim taluka on June 6 and 7. No one died. Survivors said they barely managed to escape in time and lost all their belongings. In the mining belt, silt from the pits dug to extract iron ore is stacked in the open. During rains the silt turns into sludge that damages farmland and houses. This happened on the night of June 6 in Varchawada, Poira and Manaswada residential areas of Bicholim, the taluka worst affected by mining. Poira was hit by sludge from the Advalpal iron ore mine owned by Sesa Goa Ltd—the retaining wall that held the silt back from the mining pit, caved in under pressure. Rupesh Naik, resident of Varchawada said he had to flee his home like his neighbour Lavu. But villagers were unwilling to blame the company. Activist Ramesh Gauns said villagers rarely complain as mining companies control the economy of the area. Deputy collector D H Kenaudekar said those responsible would have to pay for the damage. Sesa Goa’s environment officer Upendra Joshi said he was not aware of the incident as the Advalpal mine was a recent acquisition.

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