Goa's mining-dependent people start dharna in New Delhi

Mining-dependent people of Goa, whose livelihood has been affected following the suspension of iron more mining, Tuesday took their fight to New Delhi to highlight their plight and demand resumption of operations.

Hundreds of people affected by the closure of iron ore mines in the coastal state began a three-day-long dharna (sit- in protest) at Jantar Mantar in the national capital, seeking protection of their livelihood.

Mining in Goa has come to a halt since March 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed the renewal of 88 mining leases.

The protesters, united under the banner Goa Mining People's Front (GMPF), want the Supreme Court to uphold their right to life guaranteed under the Constitution.

According to an estimate, the mining industry had been the sole source of income for nearly three lakh people in Goa.

GMPF president Puti Gaonkar told PTI from New Delhi that the SC order banning mining activities did not take into consideration the impact it will cause on the livelihood of people who are spread across 50 per cent area of the state.

"A sizable population of Goa finds gainful employment in theminingsector either directly or indirectly as truck owners, drivers, barge operators, road mechanics or through other related self-employment ventures.

"Approximately 60,000 people have been rendered without any means of livelihood, thus overall impacting over 3,00,000 people," Gaonkar said.

"Hence, we appeal to Supreme Court judges to uphold our right to life which is our constitutional right," he said.

Gaonkar said the GMPF has filed an interlocutory application (IA) in the Supreme Court and it is likely to be listed for hearing later this month.

The application seeks a direction from the apex court to extend the life of mining leases till 2037 under section 8A(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, he said.

"We want the state government to file an affidavit in the court in a bid to extend the life of leases till 2037," Gaonkar said.