Coming back to Earth!!

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
05 March 2013 20:54 IST

It is with profound anguish and horror that one witnessed the mindless and, I dare say, well-orchestrated protest against a bunch of defenseless and harmless activists discussing the Shah Commission report in Margao.

To give you the analogy of a joy ride gone horribly wrong, here’s how it goes:

During the boom and doom years of the Congress mis-rule in the state, there was this huge roller coaster of a ride that the “mining dependent” people were taken on with no care or concern for safety, sustainability or security of the riders or those around the roller coaster.

The thrill and ecstasy of this ride was like a high, no narcotic could ever deliver.

Now that the predictable crash has occurred, it is futile to blame activists, who were mere spectators to this insane gravity defying sport and who were tirelessly warning the joy riders to go slow and sober down but then if you are going all giddy on the ride, do you have the capacity to listen to sane advice?.

Funnily enough the most passionate and vociferous anti-mining voice issuing the warning was the PAC chairman, who had unearthed all the illegalities and danger signals of this roller coaster ride. How the activists sorely miss this guy now!

The “mining dependent” people whose livelihoods are now on the ropes and who stare at a bleak uncertain future must fix the blame where blame is due and seek adequate compensation. This blame squarely lies on the drivers , maintenance engineers and importantly the owners of this dangerous roller coaster wheel, and it is they who must be held to account.

How does chasing and intimidating activists, go on to change the minds of Supreme Court judges, who are seized of the matter, completely beats me. This logic and therefore the strategy is doomed to fail whatever the masterminds may have you believe.

To cut a long analogy short it is vital for all protagonists in this sordid drama to negotiate their way from established positions, accept the Supreme Court judgement  gracefully whichever way it swings and then work out a solution by which the common folk in the mining belt are put back to work -- some work -- to get food on their plate ASAP.

For this the anti-mining activists (including the opinionated non-resident variety), the government, captains of industry and business heads and all those with Goa at heart, must come out with a viable and workable economic plan for the area. (and somewhere in this the holy grail of environment may have to be compromised somewhat).

And to get all these heads to knock together and thresh out a viable solution it must be the Chief Minister of the State who should facilitate the negotiations and bang out a solution.

That can never come about if:

1. The activists and the Chief Minister get into this I-can-do-it-better–than-you verbal abuse of one another.

2.The Chief Minister continues to bristle under his monumental ego and refuse to acknowledge that ultimately the people of Goa, the dedicated activists and Mr Parrikar himself want a solution to this vexatious issue but that this must never happen on mining company ‘s terms after all the ghastly horror they’ve subjugated Goa to.

3. People of Goa, whether mining dependent or not do not understand that for the sake of selfish personal profits we cannot set the whole of Goa on fire (or bury it under the pits).

It must be abundantly clear that the decision on which mines are legal or illegal will be decided by the Supreme Court of India AND ONLY the Supreme Court of India. This cannot be decided by mine owners or activists; mining dependent or mining independent people; or Claude Alvares: or Manohar Parrikar.

After the Supreme Court decision, the people of Goa must then talk to each other rather than at each other and work out economic solutions which may include regulated and limited mining activity to ride over the crisis. One man, one group or one lobby cannot have it solely their way.

Solutions, they say, never come easy in the complex times we live in. After all, whoever said that democracy wasn’t a “mine” field that required to always be negotiated?

And to negotiate it we must learn to listen to and respect everyone’s opinions on the issue even if we vehemently disagree with them.

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo 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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