Respond to plea seeking lower mining cap, SC tells Goa

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Goa government and mining companies to respond on a petition seeking to lower the cap on extraction of mineral ores in the State from the current 20 MTPA to a final 12 MTPA.The apex court asked the State and the companies to file their responses to a petition filed by NGO Goa Foundation, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, for reducing the interim cap of 20 MTPA.The petition also said the State and its citizens even runs the danger of increased pollution as the The Expert Committee on the CAP (ECOC) has recommended in its final report for an enhanced extraction of mineral ores from 20 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes.“Interim cap on extraction of mineral ores from Goa, recommended by the ECOC, was fixed in a vacuum, when mining had been suspended for several years. It was not fixed after confronting actual mining operations, when started, and their impact on people and environment,” the petition said.The petition said the present cap is subject to review as it is clear that “even 20 MT mineral extraction is deleterious to public health and environment”. The petition said the State does not have the infrastructure to handle such levels of extraction.It said the court should consider reducing the cap on mining in Goa to 5 MTPA.“At that level, mining could be conducted without damage to the environment, since it would be easier to monitor the activity and stop it immediately, if violations were observed,” the petition said.It said that though the mining industry was found to have damaged the environment of Goa in substantial, irreversible manner, as recorded in the reports of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission and the Central Empowered Committee, no rehabilitation of the damaged environment has even commenced despite mining having resumed, albeit on smaller scale, for the past two years.“In the current situation there is demonstrated proof that the mining industry is completely incapable and uninterested in balancing its interests with those of the environment and the villagers affected by their activities,” the petition said.A hearing has been scheduled in the matter for November 29.last_img read more

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CWG fiasco is a metaphor of our daily experience

first_imgYears ago when Muhammad Ali proclaimed that he was the greatest, he was the greatest. As heavy weight boxing champion of the world he had defeated every possible challenger and his claim was merely a statement of that fact. Muhammad Ali has never been known for modesty, but sports figures like Federer and Woods, though arguably the greatest of all time in their chosen sport, rarely bring up the subject on their own. Their greatness is claimed by others around them. Indian public life by contrast is a daily barrage of hyperbole, arrogance, false claims and often outright lies. With virtually nothing to back them, the Indian Commonwealth Organising Committee makes public and international statements so outlandish and arrogant, to be laughable. The Commonwealth Games will be the best ever. The stadia are better than Beijing. The facilities are 5-star…As if to remind the claimant of his conceit, a ceiling buckled at a stadium. Just when the Chief Minister was calling a waterlogged city of broken roads, world class, as if on cue, a bridge collapsed.InflationWhen the daily sights and sounds are of failure, hyperbole and superlatives become essential even for the most mediocre of accomplishments. Hailed as the pride of India, Delhi’s international airport has been designed and built by a consortium of foreign companies. Yet the insistence by the Prime Minister that the structure was a symbol of Indian ingenuity was a desperate call to all those within hearing distance that India had arrived. Even if we were not better than others, we were at least almost like them. In every utterance there is an urgent need to repair the shaky confidence of a nation riddled with daily signs of ineptness and greed.advertisementSo desperate is the urge to falsify reality, that its replacement is not a modest parting of relevant information, but hopeless exaggeration. Public remarks are coated in either misinformation or vagueness. Or are just clever rebuttals. The Naxals are not anti-national, but are a problem to the nation-state. We can’t distribute the rotting wheat; it has to be done through the Public Distribution System. The judiciary is not above the law, the judiciary is the law.Part of the problem lies with a society that despite its claim to modernity, still refuses to think outside of the family. Nothing of national, regional or local interest can be of any value to people whose allegiance is firmly stuck in the private progress of the household. Indian business models seem quaint but outmoded to foreigners when the management of sizeable industrial resources are shared amongst relatives: brothers and sons as MDs, wives and daughters as sleeping partners. Ministers’ sons are natural contenders for succession, even if more qualified candidates are available. Every year the railways most successful expansion program is linked to setting up stations at the minister’s ancestral village, however remote. With easy availability of national resources, progress of the Indian family is always possible?Moreover, the incapacity to do, is intrinsically linked to the capacity to pass responsibility. Even a cursory glance will reveal that India has an extensive institutional and public framework for governance that consistently fails to deliver. In forestry alone there are several national institutes and departments doing research, experimentation, afforestation, surveys, management, species development, preservation, conservation, land control etc.. Yet India ranks amongst countries with one of the highest levels of depleting forest cover in the world. There may be a surplus of wheat in India, but without its distribution, India also has the highest deaths from malnutrition. Government departments continue to research and publish papers on new improved fire retardant thatch for village homes, but fund only the construction of pucca cement roofs. The disconnect between the resolve and the reality is so complete it is hard to know when to laugh, when to cry.KnowledgeA recent article described the inauguration of a speed breaker on a national highway. While the speed breaker was decorated with Rangoli, the road was closed for the day. In the evening, a Hindu priest recited shlokas, and the minister of Surface Transport got on all fours and broke a coconut against the speed breaker. Though the inauguration caused a 12 km truck traffic jam, the event was perceived by all to be essential, a successful integration of new infrastructure with traditional ritual. I reread the piece to figure out whether this was a serious report or satire. But even after several readings could not tell. In most situations, it is hard to tell the two apart.advertisementTry stopping someone on the road for directions. He points vaguely in the direction that your car faces, and asks you to continue to go straight, then gesturing towards the right with his arm he will ask you to turn left; and suggest you ask someone there. By ensuring that you are now doubly confused, he will have at least conveyed that he is in the know of things, a man about town; his vanity must be salvaged at all costs.Rarely will someone say “My knowledge of this neighbourhood lacks the urban coordinates, landmarks and magnetic pole positions that would allow me to do justice to your enquiry. Could I direct you to someone better informed, more trustworthy and infinitely more courteous than myself.”UnrealPart of the Indian failure to complete the preparations for the Commonwealth Games on time was the inability to realistically assess situations, and to say, No, Give it to Fiji. They’ll do a better job. At every press conference pointed questions about tardiness and sloppy work were addressed with phrases like, “We are doing our best. We are giving everything we have. The whole nation is praying for success. We must put our best foot forward. It’s in God’s hands.” Public briefings and press releases speak to a nation as if addressing a child’s birthday party.Everyday, every paper, every report becomes a mix of the serious and frivolous, part truth, part moral indignation, part hope. A cover for the darker stains of India. Thieving forest officials, military attacks on Naxals and Kashmiris, food godowns brimming with rotting wheat, rural malnutrition and farmer suicides, incomplete international games, falling bridges, waterlogged cities, the daily upheavals are tinged with comedy. In a place with an increasing quantum of daily human suffering, heightened public expectation, and the cartoon characters that pose as potential providers, comic relief becomes the only way to assuage collective guilt. Laugh and forget.Some years ago, in a supposedly successful television campaign to sell the country to foreigners under the title of Incredible India, a television ad showed a variety of images: a Kuchipudi dancer, a remote Rajasthani palace, a set of sand dunes, a snow covered mountain, an empty beach, a Buddhist monk in a hill side monastery. Every image distilled into a picture book pastoral stillness. So removed was it from the real experience of India, that the campaign was bound to succeed. An outright lie, it reinforced every picturesque stereotype of traditional India. Wherever possible, words, images and other forms of sensory stimulation are an essential buffer from the real India. The unreal, the imagined, the hoped for, the preferred, the recalled, eventually become a messy amalgam in the daily life of the country. It is hard to tell one from the other.When my son was just a kid I’d take him to Appu Ghar to ride in Bump’Em cars. He would maneuvre his car very carefully, giving signals and ensuring he didn’t hit any one, and I would need to goad him into active hostility: Drive like you are on a Delhi road. The real world was an outright lie. It has taken him a few years to learn, but he has.advertisementThe writer is an architectlast_img read more

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