Mining, real lobbies, tourism projects are seeking to destroy areas where tribal communities live in Goa

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Civil rights organization of Goa, Gawada Kunbi Velip & Dhangar Federation, has represented to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes chairperson on the behalf tribes of Goa, highlighting tribal issues which need urgent attention. Text of the memorandum, submitted by the organization’s general secretary Rupesh Soiru Velip:

The Gakuved Federation is an organization registered which was registered in 1981 under the Societies registration Act, 1860. Since then Gakuved has been actively involved in addressing tribal issues. Efforts of the Gakuved Federation led to inclusion of Gawada, Kunbi and Velip tribes in the list of Scheduled Tribes and the notification for this was issued in the year 2003.

Gakuved has urge NCST to look into the following issues which needs urgent attention:

Need to notify Scheduled Tribe areas:

Issue: Goa has majority of tribal population in such talukas like Quepem, Sanguem, Canacona in South Goa; and Dharbandora, Ponda, Sattari and Tiswadi in North Goa. The Goa Government approved Goa Regional Plan 2021 last year (2018) without identifying the tribal areas, thereby ignoring the fact that Goa has about 12% of tribal population. Tribal lands of Goa are under threat as they are not notified in the Goa Regional Plan, 2021.

Future threat: The mineral resources like Iron ore, Manganese ore etc. are commonly found in the the tribal areas. Beside, Goa is also a tourists place and many tourists visiting Goa want to buy a second home in Goa. If tribal areas are not demarcated in the Regional Plan 2021, the mining lobby, real state lobby and tourism projects will destroy the very existence of tribal communities in Goa. The introduction of Transfer and Development Rights (TDR), Planning and Development Authority (PDA) and conversion of orchid land  will further destroy the tribal land. Tribals will become refugees in their own land.

Recommendation required: 1) Notify the tribal areas in Goa state as per the Schedule V of the Constitution of India to save tribal identity, tribal culture of Goa and for self-governance. 2) Tribal areas are should be demarcated in the Goa Regional Plan, 2021.

Tribes Advisory Council

Issue: The Goa Government has failed to constitute the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) as per the scheduled V of the Constitution of India. The Goa Government has constituted an interim Tribes Advisory Council without giving any representation to tribal community members violating the Scheduled V. The present TAC which consists of secretaries of different departments is illegal in nature and therefore requires to be quashed.

Future threat: The tribal communities do not have any stake in policy decisions which are affecting Schedules Tribes of Goa. This affects the implementation of Tribal Sub Plan.

Recommendations required: Form TAC as per the Schedule V of the Constitution of India.

Diversion of funds under Tribal Sub plan

Issue: TSP funds are diverted in large scale in Goa and hence have failed to meet their purpose to benefit the tribal population. The Directorate of Panchayat, Public Works Department and many other departments have diverted TSP funds in Goa. Tribal people lacks awareness about TSP and therefore most of the TSP funds are diverted and also remain unutilized. The Goa Tribal Employment Generation Programme Scheme (loan), meant for the upliftment of tribal youth, comes under the Directorate of Industries, Trade & Commerce. Application of 70 youths are pending; they are being denied their constitutional rights from the last  4 years. Several representation have been made on this to the Government and the ST Commission. There have been agitations on this.

Future Threat: Further diversion of TSP funds may take place in future.

Recommendations required: 1) Awareness about the TSP at the village level.  2) Restoration of the Goa Tribal Employment Generation Programme  Scheme, and revival of the Tribal Multipurpose Cooperative Society. 3) Social audit of TSP funds of the last three years.

Reservation and filling backlog vacancies in Government recruitment

Issue: The Goa Government has always overlooked reservation provisions for Government recruitment. One only has to see recent advertisements to fill up the accountants posts in the accounts department, government primary school teachers  posts in the Directorate of Education and posts in the Directorate of Art and Culture Department, the Government has refused to fill the backlog posts. In addition, the Goa Government has also reduced the backlog vacancies without actually doing any recruitment. The roster points are also not followed as per Post Based Reservation Roster (PBR) thereby violating the Supreme Court judgment of R. K. Sabharwal and Ors vs State Of Punjab.

Future threat: The educated tribal youths will remain unemployed. This will defeat the purpose of reservation provision as the Constitution of India guarantees the representation of Scheduled Tribes in government recruitment through reservations.

Recommendations required: 1) To carry out special recruitment drives at the earliest to fill backlog of ST on priority in all government departments prior to current recruitment. 2) To set up a committee to inspect the rosters and audit the implementation of reservations in various government departments in Goa. 3) To issue consolidated instructions to all Departments showing the roster points for SC, ST and OBC and how these are to be entered on the Roster considering the various changes in the percentage of reservation for each of the categories from 1997 to date. 4) Direct the Government of Goa to make the rosters of all the departments public showing shortfall and backlog clearly as part of pro-active disclosure mandated under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act.

Identify and declare the Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR Rights) under Forest Rights Act, 2006

Issue: The tribals of Goa are kept in total darkness about the provisions of Community Forest Rights (CFR) which are enshrined under Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. It appears that the Goa Government wants to only implement individual rights and has no interest to declare CFR  thereby defeating the very purpose of enacting FRA. There is also no awareness among the tribal forest dwellers with regard to CFR.

Future threat: Non-implementation of CFR will defeat the purpose of FRA, 2006. The Forest Department will have total control on the forests, and traditional tribal forest dwellers may lose their livelihood. More conflicts between tribal forest dwellers and Forest Department will arise which will lead to filing of fake and frivolous complaints against Scheduled Tribes, as happened earlier in talukas like Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona.

Recommendations required: 1) Directions to the nodal agency, i.e. Directorate of Tribal Welfare to declare the CFR of each tribal village of Goa State. 2) Create awarenes sabout the CFR provision as enshrined under Section 3(1) (b) to (m) of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Atrocities on tribal and safeguarding the tribes of Goa

Issue: The tribals of Goa are under threat due to various developmental and industrial projects as also mining activities. There has been always state repression whenever tribal communities protested to recognize their constitutional rights. We have the example of how Dilip Velip and Manguesh Gaonkar, two tribal youths were killed on 25th May 2011 during the peaceful agitation which was held in South Goa.

There was also an attempt to murder Nilesh Gaonkar and Ravindra Velip when they were protesting against illegal mining but luckily both of them sustained with only fractures. A tribal youth Surendra Gawade from Sonshi of South Goa also luckily survived from an attempt to murder. His group had approached to the High Court of Bombay at Goa over illegal and uncontrolled mining in Sonshi village. Similar was the case with tribal leader Rama Kankonkar of Tiswadi taluka, when he raised voice against land grabbing in his village.

Whenever tribal people demanded for their constitutional rights, either they were killed or they were framed under false charges.

Future threat: The tribal leadership is under threat. The tribals may further become  victims due to repression and violence.

Recommendations required: 1) To safeguard the tribals of Goa and provide necessary protection to young tribal leaders. 2) Withdrawal of false and fabricated cases registered against the protesting tribals of Goa, especially in the mining region.

Non-utilization of DMF funds

Issue: Most of the iron ore mining companies were operational in the tribal areas of Goa. The amendment of MMDR, Act 1957 has a provision of District Mineral Foundation (DMF) wherein the mining companies were asked to contribute in a district mineral fund to help address the issues faced by the mining affected communities. The total DMF fund collection in Goa is about Rs 186 crores, of which only Rs 10 crores have been spent so far. Rs 10 crores which has been spent so far also failed to benefit the mining affected community living in and around the mining areas. The administrative setup is not equipped with the rules and procedures for disbursement of funds. The mining affected community and the mining affected region are not clearly defined in the DMF Goa rules. There is no provision for ‘social audit’ in the DMF rules. There is monopoly of the line departments and politicians. The needs of the tribal community which is the most affected due to mining are ignored.

Recommendations required: 1) Conduct awareness and training for DMF officials on the rules and procedures. 2. Dialogue with the community to gauge their needs. 3. Create social audit mechanisms.

Road at Cortalim

Issue: The Government of Goa proposes road parallel to the railway track in Cortalim Village  which will pass through the existing cultivating field. The building of road will destroy the field of tenanted farmers. Around 90% farmers belong to scheduled tribes community.

Recommendations required: Not to build road through existing fields.

Looking forward for your kind intervention and necessary action at your end.

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