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

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 the Gakuved has been actively involved to address the tribal issues before the authorities. The effort of Gakuved federation led to inclusion of Gawada, Kunbi and Velip tribes in the list of Scheduled Tribe’s and the notification of this was issued in the year 2003.

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

Notification to notify Scheduled Tribe areas:

Issue: Goa has majority of tribal population in Talukas such as Quepem, Sanguem, Canacona of South Goa; and Dharbandora, Ponda, Sattari and Tiswadi of North Goa. The Goa Government has approved its Goa Regional Plan 2021 last year (2018) without identifying the tribal areas thereby ignoring the fact that the Goa has about 12% of the tribal population. The tribal lands of Goa state 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 tribal areas. Beside this Goa is also a tourists place and therefore most of the tourists visiting Goa want to buy a second home in Goa. If the 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 the state of Goa. The introduction of Transfer and Development rights (TDR), Planning and development authority (PDA) & 16A of conversion of orchid land will further destroy the tribal land& troibals will be 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 the tribal identity, tribal culture of Goa and for self-governance. 2) Tribal areas are to be demarcated in the Goa Regional plan, 2021.

Tribes Advisory Council

Issue: The Goa Government has failed to constitute the Tribes Advisory Council 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 the tribal community members violating the Scheduled V of the Constitution of India. The present TAC which is consisting of Secretaries of different departments is illegal in nature and therefore required to be quashed.

Future threat: The tribal communities may not have any stake in policy decisions which are affecting Schedules Tribes of Goa. This will also affect the implementation of Tribal Sub plan.

Recommendations required: Form a Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) as per the Schedule V of the Constitution of India.

Diversion of funds under Tribal Sub plan

Issue: The TSP funds are diverted in large scale in Goa State and hence have failed to meet its purpose to benefit the tribal population. The Directorate of Panchayat, Public Works Department and many other departments have diverted the TSP funds in Goa. The tribal population lacks awareness about TSP and therefore most of the TSP funds are diverted and also remain unutilized. Live example is that Goa Tribal Employment generation Programme Scheme(loan) meant for upliftment of tribal youth, a Scheme of Directortae of Industries trade & commerce . .Application of 70 youths are pending their by denying their constitutional rights from last 4 years . several representation made to govt & ST Commission & agitations on this.

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

Recommendations required: 1) Awareness about the Tribal sub-plan at the village level. 2) Restoration of Goa tribal employment Generation programme Scheme Back to Tribal Multipurpose cooperative Society. 3) Social audit of TSP funds under Tribal Sub Plan of the last three years.

Reservation and filling backlog vacancies in Government recruitment

Issue: The Goa Government has always overlooked on the reservation provisions for Government recruitment. If you see the recent advertisements to fill the Accountants posts in Accounts department, Government Primary School Teachers Posts in Directorate of Education and filling of posts in Directorate of Art & 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 OrsvsState 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 Govt 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 setup 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 Govt 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 CFR rights which are enshrined under Forest Rights Act, 2006. It appears that the Goa Government want to only implement the individual rights and have no interest to declare the CFR rights thereby defeating the very purpose of enacting the Forest Rights Act, 2006. There is also no awareness among the tribal forest dwellers with regard to CFR rights.

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

Recommendations required: 1) Directions to the Nodal agency i.e. Directorate of Tribal Welfare to declare the CFR rights of each tribal village of Goa State.2) Create awarenessabout 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 projects, industrial projects and mining activities. There has been always state repression whenever the tribal communities protested to recognize their constitutional rights. We have an 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 who they were protested against the illegal mining but luckily both of them sustained with only fractures. A tribal youth Surendra Gawade from Sonshi of South Goa was also luckily survived from an attempt to murder. His group had approached to the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay at Goa over illegal and uncontrolled mining in Sonshi village. The similar was the case with the tribal leader Rama Kankonkar of Tiswadi taluka when he raised the 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 the victim due to repression and violence.

Recommendations required: 1) To safeguard the tribals of Goa and provide necessary protection to the 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 wherein the mining companies were asked to contribute in a District mineral fund which will help to address the issues faced by the mining affected communities. The Total DMF fund collection in Goa is about Rs.186 crores of which only 10 crores have been spent so far. The 10 crore which has been spent so far also failed to benefit the mining affected community living in and around the mining area. The administrative setup is not equipped with the rules and procedures for disbursement of funds. The mining affected community and mining affected region is 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 need of tribal community which is the most affected due to mining is 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 filed.

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