Goodness interred with (tiger) bones

By Dr Oscar Rebello
27 February 2010 14:18 IST

Rajendra Kerkar is simply a phenomenon of simplicity. Meet him once and he stays with you forever.

Firm in his convictions; High on ideals; and passionate about the environment this is Mr Courage himself.

I had the opportunity of interacting with him in Oman at the Global Goan Convention. His electric talk on Goa's Mhadei basin and the eco hot spots he so relentlessly strives to preserve enthralled the entire audience and had us spell bound.

"Goa, at its very inception, had no Ram, Allah, Christ as her Gods - those came much later, he says. Peruse her age old folk songs, her folklore and you'll learn that all these songs rise in prayer, in honour of Mother Earth and her bounty. Goa's true religion is her environment,"  he claimed.

"To the extent," he asserted in a lighter vein, tongue firmly in cheek "even in present times our three recent Chief Ministers Parrikar, Rane and Kamat have revolved around, worshipped and deified a natural fruit - Monseratte - a mango Touche."

Generations of Goans will have to be eternally grateful to guys like Rajendra, Ramesh Gawas, Claude Alvares, Seby Rodrigues, Nandkumar Kamat and a host of other unsung heroes, who are struggling to protect our rivers, our forests and our wild life.

And then, the dirty cowards try to shoot the messenger.

The conservator of forests, Mr Shashi Kumar tries to put Kerkar in the dock, accusing him to be an abettor in the tiger poaching case, only because he spilled the beans on the culprits.

Who was Rajendra  Kerkar's secret source, then? Who was deep throat? Who was the leaking sieve?

Let's give Mr Shashi Kumar the answer - "We, the people of Goa, were his sources." He did it for all of us and the unborn kids of this land.

Does that suit you? Now, go ahead you know your answer. Come, get all of us.

On the other side of this divide are our mining lobby, of course, smacking their lips and lazily yawning, eyes alert, waiting for the next kill in case Kerkar falls.

Blessed by the Patron Saint of Mines, from Margao illegal miners will have a field day ravaging the earth, disembowelling it mercilessly in our deep jungles if not for the valiant efforts of Kerkar, Claude & Co.

The commonest argument you get, from the pro-mining lobby when you bump into them at cocktail parties, is that all environmentalists are a bunch of frauds,  only engaging in extortion of a perfectly legal business which is providing employment to thousands and increasing taxes for the state.

Green is mean - they say so to play Devil's Advocate, let us buy our beatific mining lobby / Govt's argument that Greens are impediments to the state's giant economic march or whatever. Let us assume all greens are evil.

How does all that change the visible and monumental carnage happening on Goa's eastern belt?

It is a fact that mining takes place in reserved forests.

It is a fact that people in mine affected areas suffer from severe respiratory ailments.

It is a fact that rivers Kushawati, Valvanti are choked with silt and refuse to breathe.

It is a fact that traditional farming is obliterated as a profession in these areas.

It is a fact that mines may pay off for private profits but it is a heavy price that the public has to endure.

These are facts that are indisputable and we need solutions. The solutions to these problems must come from the mining lobby itself, who are fortunate to have made obscene profits at Goa's cost.

True, many have donated handsomely to charity and to social causes: to temples and educational outfits but those times have changed.

With Gen Next looking to head family run mining businesses, we need this generation to focus on the environment. All corporate social responsibility efforts must be targeted to cleaning the crap your businesses are leaving behind.

Forget the Gods and the art galleries for now, we need a Herculean, titanic struggle to clean our rivers, reforest denuded areas; invest in farming/horticulture and replenish the earth. These efforts must be visible, palpable and sustainable and illegal miners must be sent packing pronto and with God speed. We will need to look for viable economic alternatives in the mining ravaged belt.

So, the story of Kerkar then, must be told, repeated and reaffirmed ad nauseum, in schools and colleges; at festivals and cocktail parties. The story of sterling courage and conviction of one man, who put his all on the line, for us Goans and asked nothing in return.

 

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Dr Oscar Rebello

Dr Oscar Rebello is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Any Govt. which is working honestly for the common man can be easily pulled down by a few greedy politicians who are more interested in their own development than the development of the State. Again some of the blame goes to the section of the voters who elect such rouges to power, may be for getting some petty reward for casting their votes! If a group of honest people comes together with the ability of mobilizing the masses to rise above their petty selfish gains, the picture would change for better! There is absolutely no harm in the voters voting for an honest candidate even after accepting the dole out from the corrupt candidates as the money so distributed by them is our own money collected through various corrupt practices! And one need not feel guilty for this!

- Vishwas Prabhudesai, Loliem | 03 rd March 2010 08:40

 

Dr. Rebello, we need a person like you, who can take the lead or else time will pass and words will be just memories and our Gold of Ancients(GOA) will be looted by some Corrupt, Selfish and Hypocrite Politicians.

Later, when Susegad Goenkars wake up, they shouldn't be surprised to find themselves, staying as tenants of outsiders at their own Purvozzamchem Ghor ........

It will be too late and a Point of No Return.

SAVE GOA...... SAVE GOEMKARPONN!

- Joe Ganja, Overseas | 02 nd March 2010 12:45

 

Dr Rebello,

I agree we 40 people to take on rouges. Rouges should not be let in to the govt. But for that to happen, we need more than 50% of Goan populace supporting the 40 honest people. Before that happens, chief ministers will be forced to continue taking support from rouges.

We need to evaluate the intentions of the govt that takes support from such people. One govt may do so in the greater interest of Goa and another for personal benefits. Looking at the present circumstances, Manohar Parrikar seems to fall in the first category. He also falls, as you say, in the category of a single honest person being screwed by the system.

It is high time people unite and back an honest person like him and completely eliminate the rouges.

-Melvyn

- Melvyn Ferrao, Agacaim | 01 st March 2010 09:39

 

hi vishwas... thanks a lot for the response... politics is a lifelong mission and one must be prepared to virtually give up everything to make a change in Goa.

Honestly, I don't know if I am prepared mentally to do that yet. Also the way our system works here, we have to be a team of 40 to take on these rogues.

One man or woman, however well intentioned, can't work the magic.. the system will screw them.

Meanwhile let's continue to change our social ills.

All the best and thaks again.

- Dr Oscar Rebello, Panaji | 28 th February 2010 23:01

 

Doc, your contribution to save Goa for the future generations is appreciated by every true well wisher of this beautiful State! In fact today we need a leader who is honest, who is straight forward, who is sincere and who is truely concerned for the common man. You very well fit in all this! I think every patriot will rally around you when you take up an issue affecting the common man and the future generations!

- Vishwas Prabhudesai, Loliem | 28 th February 2010 16:55

 

Doc, read Rupesh's article..many answers lie there..!

- Pramod Acharya, Panaji | 27 th February 2010 15:47

 

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