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Mining belt Goans: Wake up and see where the money meant for you lies



By Sujay Gupta

The order of the High Court calling to account the legality and sanctity of the Goa District Mineral Fund, assumes significance and has sounded out alarm bells, over how public funds earmarked to manage mining environment , have been handled.

At a time when the closure of mining has led to joblessness and the absolute stalling of any growth and huge hit on the economy, Rs 180 crores is a big amount. ( Rs 90 plus crores from North Goa and Rs 85 plus crores from South Goa

And if these funds are available, then the government must disclose if it has a plan or a road map for its utilisation.

The district mineral fund was set up with the following priority areas. Toilets in schools in the mining areas, tree plantation, improving health facilities, establishing a road bridge network, de-silting of water  bodies, assistance in agriculture and animal husbandry and so on

And this isn’t the first time. In March 2018, the HC ordered the member secretaries of the District Mineral Funds to issue advertisements in leading English, Marathi and Konkani dailies every month until July 2018, specifying the availability of amounts in DMFs, the benefits available to people. and calling for applications from mining-affected people to seek benefits. It also asked for DMFs to be publicised widely through radio stations, notices in panchayat offices directions and building awareness at village level through village heads. None of this has happened


It’s legal sanctity and its self imposed mandate  to be the custodian of funds it receives, to be spent for public purposes has been subjected to legal scrutiny and rightfully so, by the Goa Foundation. And the High Court’s observations on a petition filed by the Goa Foundation, is an embarrassing indictment of the government. “It is clear that these randomly put together groups, operating without legal sanctity cannot be entrusted with public funds of Rs 180 crore. We direct that the District Collectors of both North and South Goa districts to forthwith take charge of the funds of the District Mineral Foundation. We direct that the office bearers of the “SO CALLED” District Mineral Foundations of both the districts will not take any decision nor will they have any authority to deal with the amounts of the foundations.

The non action of the government, on these fronts border on actually insulting the court . The nonchalance of the state to a High court is an arrogant act which cannot pass muster

180 crores of money was parked with a “so called foundation” which was not registered as a trust

While the Advocate General of Goa, tried to make a case that the state was in the process of registering the foundation as a trust and amending or framing the rules governing the functioning of the District Mineral Foundation, the Court was rightly concerned that 180 crores of money was parked with a “so called foundation” which was not registered as a trust, nor does it have any legal sanctity or mandate. The utter callousness with which such a massive amount of money has been dealt with, is shocking. “Such adhoc assemblage (referring to the manner in the DMF in the two districts were formed) put together by the state, under the banner of District Mineral Foundations, hardly has any legal sanctity. To make matters worse, the entire corpus of Rs 180 crores is handed over in custody of such assemblage. We were concerned about the credentials of these two groups”.

The composition of the DMF does not inspire confidence 

The composition and the manner in which the DMF was set up, leave room for such concern. When it was formed, the south Goa DMF chairman was Nilesh Cabral, then just a BJP MLA from Curchorem and north Goa DMF chairman was Subhash Malik, one of the directors at Goa State Horticultural Corporation Limited.

The rules of formation of the DMF mentioned that the committee of the DMF should  “consist of persons each of whom shall have knowledge in the field of mining, engineering, medicine, forest, wildlife, agriculture, biodiversity, rural development and planning”

Look at how the High Court reacted to this.“The qualifications do not even mandate expertise. Almost all vocations or careers are covered. Likewise, any private person can claim knowledge in these general fields,” the order states. Almost all DMF members are private persons, the court observes. The High Court called the state of affairs “shocking”

The DMF rules do not have a provision to set up a committee of officers in ex-officio capacity as is generally done in handling such matters.

The rules were framed in January 2016.The Notification regarding District Mineral Foundations for North Goa District and South Goa District was issued on 30 November 2017, which was published in official gazette on 7 December 2017on 23 March 2018, the Foundations held their first meeting.

The District Collectors have, for the time being, made custodians of the DMF and for practical reasons the secretaries of the DMF have been asked to carry out day to day functions under the District Collectors

Why are mining affected people not a part of the District Mineral Fund

In an article in the Down to Earth Magazine headlined, “Bombay HC questions DMF administration in Goa, identifies loopholes in state law” Chinmayi Shalya writes

“Some of the issues flagged by the HC for Goa DMF are the status quo in many other places. For example, lack of knowledge of mining-affected people about DMF and their rights under it, is the case in almost every mining district. The district authorities are barely making any deliberate effort to reach out and making them aware. How will the mining-affected people then engage in DMF planning or identifications of beneficiaries that the law requires?” says Srestha Banerjee, programme manager, environmental governance-community support programme, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)—a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi.

The CSE, which has been working on DMF, has also been underscoring the critical need for awareness and capacity building among mining-affected communities so that they can be part of the DMF decision-making in their respective districts. “There is also a need of DMF office to co-ordinate the process of planning, investment and monitoring. It cannot be left to intermittent meeting of the DMF body,” she concludes.

No lessons learnt from the past

The sad reality is that the government has not learnt any lessons from the past. The narrative of “illegal mining” is all about the failure of governance of Goa’s mining operations. It started off by the mining department issuing fake challans of payment of royalty during the peak of the mining boom from 2007 to 2010, allowing hundreds of tons of iron ore extracted by dubious means or plain stolen to be transported and exported.

The clue to illegal mining lies here

If one really wants to unearth the genesis of illegal mining in Goa, the clue lies in tracing the antecedents of the iron ore lying in the jetties in the mining belt for transportation or looking at transport challans during the 2007 to 2009 and matching them with records of ore export  in the leases from where the ore was ostensibly transported.

The almost fraudulent manner of setting up the DMF in the two districts of Goa, follow the all too familiar pattern of institutions formed to govern, moderate and  control the mining  space have failed, in a manner which is inefficient, callous and perhaps deliberately devious, meant to protect those who  have attempted to beat the system.

Rs 180 cores of money, meant for the ultimate benefit of the people of Goa, has to be in legal hands and within a legal framework. Most importantly, with this latest indictment of the High Court, the buck must stop at the door of the mines department, which has been without full time minster for close to a year now, since it is held by the Chief Minister who has been ailing.

But it is the sickness of the mines department, its inefficiency and its robust attempts to lean towards the mining lobby and not really for the benefit of the economy of the state, that needs to be addressed on a war footing. Currently, it is only the Courts which are capable of  prescribing a correct line of treatment.

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Spotlight Narratives

A nut peeling machine which removes layers of cost and difficulty in Satarri




GOA (Sattari)  A small make shift shed on the road in Hetodem village, 10 kms away from Valpoi, just 2.5 kms away from Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary, is witnessing a revolution which can attract young blood towards agriculture.

A small arecanut peeling machine or arecanut de-husking machine has become a major assistance to the hundreds of farmers who had to depend on the manual labour to peel the arecanut before drying it and selling it in the market.

Mind you! This is not country’s or Goa’s first Arecaut Peeling Machine. There are few such machines already in the market but Ashok Joshi’s gadget is different from the rest.

Explaining the economics behind the machine, he said the manual peeling requires Rs 30 per kilogram cost, while the machine has reduced it to Rs three per kg.

The decades of experience in farming has come handy for Joshi, who has improvised this machine which manufactured under the banner of Shree Agro Industry. Neel Shah has partnered with Joshi.

The machine has two variants – a single phase two Horse power and another is 1.5 HP. “The output of the machine is tremendous. The 1.5 HP machiner can peel 35-40 kg of Arecanut per hour,” he explained.

The farmer-turned-entrepreneur manufactures the machine in his own small make shift shed. Right from design to welding, everything is done at his shed. And feedback received from the buyers is helping him improve it.

“We have fixed 6 inch pipe so that the peeled shells are thrown at a distance without creating dust pollution during the process. The manual peeling used to create health hazard for the labourers,” he said.

The machine is eligible for 75 per cent subsidy from the government since it is certified by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Agiculture department, it is “It requires small space, there is no need of alignment,” Joshi explained.

“It works on electricity. Our attempt is to get it run on Solar Power,” he said.

This encounter with a green story revives our faith in Golden Goa. In this state, which is obsessed with tourism and mining, Ashok Joshi cements our faith in rural enterprise in Goa.

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Lillette Dubey plays enthral Goan audiences!



Rahul Chandawarkar who watched both the Lillette Dubey plays at the Kala Academy earlier this week comes away impressed with the popular actor-director.

Theatre buffs in Goa were treated to some high quality theatre on October 3 & 4 at the Kala Academy in Panaji. Noted theatre and film personality, Lillette Dubey of Mumbai staged two of her latest plays, namely, Gauharand Salaam Noni Appa on two consecutive evenings.

Both plays were distinctly different from each other and that only added to the charm.

The first play, ‘Gauhar’ inspired by Vikram Sampath’s ‘My name is Gauhar Jaan’ and penned by the popular playwright, Mahesh Dattani was directed by Lillette Dubey and traced the story of one of India’s first mass media superstars at the turn of the last century.

An Armenian Christian who later converted to Islam, Gauhar Jaan was a naturally gifted musician with a wide repertoire. One of the earliest women artistes who seized the opportunity that came with the advent of recording technology, hers was the first Indian voice to be recorded in 1902, and during her life she cut close to 600 records, with her fame travelling as far as Europe, with her face emblazoned on matchboxes and postcards.

The  play was completely special. Indian classical music was sung live on stage and always effortlessly. Rajeshwari Sachdev, who plays the younger Gauhar stood out with an outstanding performance in which she ended up singing not just in Urdu, but also sang in Bengali, English and Tamil even!

Rajeshwari breezed through the role of the younger Gauhar and impressed everyone with her easy charm and eloquence.  On the other hand, Zila Khan, the daughter of the legendary, Indian sitar maestro, the late Ustaad Vilayat Khan making her English theatre debut with this play was an able foil to Rajeshwari. Zila, who learnt Indian classical singing from  her father could break off into song at the drop of a hat. Her many renditions during the play received spontaneous applause from the audiences.

And while Rajeshwari and Zila held centre stage, the other supporting actors were no less competent.

Denzil Smith in his role as an Englishman from the recording company and also as Gauhar’s Armenian father was extremely convincing. Danny Sura in his role as Gauhar’s, Pathan manager looked the part, while Rajeev Siddhartha as Gauhar’s paramour and a rich Indian zamindar also did a very good job. Similarly, Gillian Pinto and Nandita Dubey who played the role of Gauhar’s assistants brought a lot of energy on stage.

The play was a period play and with even the most minimalistic but intelligent use of props was able to transport the audience to both the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It must be mentioned, that the period costumes designed by costume designer, Pia Benegal, daughter of the noted film maker, Shyam Benegal gave the play a definite edge.

On the other hand, the second play, Salaam Noni Appa was diametrically different in every way. As Lillette told us backstage on the second evening, “I like to make very different plays. This way, the audiences get to watch a wide variety.”

Salaam Noni Appa is based on Twinkle Khanna’s comic short story and is a heart-warming, romantic tale.  The 90-minute play that ran without an intermission depicted a delightful story about the wonderful unexpectedness of life. Where new adventures, new experiences, lie in wait behind the corner at every stage of our lives. It is a tale of discovering love in the autumn of life, and of finally being true to oneself.

Scriptwriter Adhir Bhat has adapted the original short story and converted it into a very funny play which had the audience in splits throughout the play.

Lillette played the role of Noni Appa, while talented actress, Jayati Bhatia played  the role of her sister Binny in the play. Both sisters are widows and decide to spend time together. It is interesting to see how the two sisters share a very happy rapport with each other, while still quarrelling and arguing over the smallest of things.

Binny decides to hire the services of a yoga teacher Anandji to teach the two sisters yoga at home. Adhir has weaved in many a funny line in the script during the yoga sessions making play light hearted and fun.

Noni begins playing cards with Anandji after every yoga session and finds his easy going demeanour attractive.  Seasoned actor, Yateen Karyekar who plays the role of Anandji has also done a very good job in keeping the play interesting. Rishi Khurana, who plays the role of Baburam, the Bhojpuri speaking Man Friday in Binny’s house is hilarious and plays the his role to perfection. The charming, Gillian Pinto, who had played a role in the previous play, Gauhar, plays Noni’s  daughter and Anandji’s cantankerous wife with perfection albeit a very bad throat before the play. “I am constantly drinking hot water with ginger!” she told this writer backstage before the start of the play.

Interestingly, this was the very first time that Lillette was bringing her plays to Goa without a sponsor. In an exclusive chat with the before the tour, Lillette had said,  “I am betting on the theatre loving  Goan audiences to fill up the auditorium and make both shows housefull!”

Speaking about her theatre company, Primetime Theatre, which is  soon going to complete thirty years, Lillette said that she had started her company primarily to preserve the ‘Indian-English’ voice in Indian theatre. “Our plays are rooted in the Indian ethos and enacted in everyday Indian English, just as we speak on a daily basis,” she said.

According to the actor, this strategy had helped them reach a wider audience not just in India, but even across the world. “Let me give you an example!” she says enthusiastically. “When we staged renowned playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar’s play, ‘Aatmakatha’ ( autobiography) in Indian English in Los Angeles to a mixed American audience, they were virtually gobsmacked with the power of the play!”

Lillette has also been an active traveller and has been taking her plays to several two-tier and mini metros in India. “Yes, I believe that audiences in cities like Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Vishakhapatnam appreciate good English theatre and want to see more plays.”

This was also one of the reasons, she was bringing the plays to Goa. “Absolutely. Goa is so close to Mumbai, yet not too many English theatre troupes have travelled to Goa to stage plays. I have been invited only a couple of times in the past. This is why I am going out on a limb to perform live in Goa. I am hoping the Goan audiences come and watch us and encourage us to come again!” Lillette said.

And while Lillette has acted in both films and stage, she admitted that it was the stage where her heart belonged. “The choice between the two is a  no brainer!” she said with a laugh. “Films are a director’s medium, where the actors are mere pieces in a larger jigsaw puzzle. While the stage is an actor’s medium. There are no retakes here. It is a more challenging medium than films. If you make mistakes, you stand exposed immediately,” Lillette said.

According to Lillette, she does films because she gets to act with interesting people. “But my heart and soul will always remain in theatre. People often watch my films and then come to see me on stage. This suits me,” she said.

She is gung-ho about the world of theatre. “Theatre will never die. Mumbai which is the capital of commercial theatre has theatre activity booming in English, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and so many other languages. If you pick up the weekend newspapers in Mumbai you are spoilt for choice. There could easily be at least 25 theatre shows playing over the weekend!”

Speaking about her theatre company, she said that every  attempt was made to pick original scripts written by writers like Mahashweta Devi and Girish Karnad and theatre scripts written by Indian playwrights like Mahesh Dattani and Partap Sharma. “We are consciously building up a body of work for future generations to work with,” Lillette said.

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Ancestral Goa ensures that the Mahatma is not “left” out



Loutolim museum launches year long drive to collect hand prints of left handers, like Mahatma Gandhi


Short summary

-Target of 3000 hand prints over a year set

– Organic colours being prepared for prints using beetroot and marigold.

– Prints to be compiled into a collage and will be unveiled next year on Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

GOA (Loutolim) While the entire State is busy following Mahatma Gandhi’s preachings on cleanliness, Ancestral Goa has found a unique way to celebrate Gandhi – a year long collection drive to collect hand-prints of left-handers.

To commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was a left-hander, Ancestral Goa has started with an unusual campaign of collecting hand-prints of left-handers on a khadi cloth, that too using organic colours.

Speaking about the initiative, Artist and Founder of Ancestral Goa Maendra Alvares said, “At the Big Foot, Loutulim, wherein we have busts of about 20 world famous left-handers. There are a very few people who know that Gandhi was a left-hander. Since next year is his 150th birth anniversary, we thought why not begin with collecting hand-prints of left-handers a year in advance. This is a process which will go on for a year.”

“We are also trying to address the issue of misconceptions about left-handers in the Society as Gandhiji preached equality among people”, said Alvares.

When asked about how they will go about collecting hand-prints, he said, “We have already started taking hand-prints of people visiting us. So far we have managed to get eight hand-prints. I am also trying to work out a social media campaign asking people to come and give their hand-prints. And in a year’s time if we get about 10 hand-prints per day, we will be able to collect over 3000 hand-prints.”

He informed that the social media campaign about the project will also take off soon and said, “Once we post about this on social media, people from anywhere in the world can send us the hand-prints, but only on khadi cloth as it was the fabric that Gandhiji promoted. Another thing which we will ask for is organic colours”, he said.

Currently, for taking hand-prints, Ancestral Goa is preparing its own organic colours using vegetables and flowers like beetroot and marigold. The colours that are being used include indigo, purple, orange, among others.

Additionally, to make it easier for collecting hand-prints, they have made small pieces of ladies of 25cmsx30cms each, where the hand-print as well as the name of the person can be written.

“We have asked the left-handers to write their names in the left hand. Additionally, we are also asking them to specify the place where they are from”, he said.

These hand-prints collected over the years will be compiled into a collage and will be unveiled next year on Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

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