People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

June 02, 2013




CPI(M) Holds Militant Demos to Press for People’s  Rights


Thalmann P Pereira


AS per the call given by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Goa state unit of the party organised four demonstrations before the offices of the subdivisional officers (SDOs) of Bicholim, Ponda, Quepem and Mormugao on May 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2013. the purpose was to highlight the party’s position on various political, social and economic issues affecting the life of the common citizens of India and Goa, as also to protest against the anti-people policies of the central government and the Goa government. The party raised the following urgent demands concerning the people of Goa.


1) The entire project of the Food Security Bill needs to be recast. It must ensure a minimum guaranteed supply of foodgrains and other food and essential items to each and every citizen of India, irrespective of any criteria, at subsidised prices, as a part of the constitutionally guaranteed right to life. The artificial distinction between the above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL) categories has to be completely done away with. Moreover, the conspiracy to deprive large sections of the population of their rightful entitlement to food and essential entitlements by using the sham called the “Aadhar card” must be immediately wound up. The government of India and the government of Goa should heed to the sound advice given recently by many, including the Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen. The government must concentrate on ensuring aapka  khaana  aapki  thali  mein (your food in your plate) and not on the extortionist slogan of aapka paisa aapke haath mein” (your money in your hand). Women, children, and other marginalised sections of society are in need of food security and food guarantee. Cash guarantee is meaningless for them.


2) The mining industry in Goa should be immediately restructured and reopened by terminating all the leases to private parties and taking over all the mines in Goa and running them through a state owned Goa mineral development corporation. The export of Goa’s iron ore should be immediately stopped. Instead, the entire iron ore from Goa should be domestically used for the developmental and defence needs of our country. The recent judgements of the Supreme Court permitting iron ore mining in Karnataka and in Odisha are clearly predicated on the premise that there is the pressing need for iron ore as a raw material for the indigenous steel industry. Equally, the Supreme Court has spoken out its mind by refusing to allow the export of so-called iron ore dumps in Goa. The government of India and the government of Goa should seriously heed the advice of the Supreme Court in this matter. Public sector mining alone can guarantee that mining in Goa will be on scientific and sustainable basis, with due regard for the environment and for inter-generational equity.


3) Immediate steps have to be taken for provision of the constitutionally guaranteed reservations for the scheduled tribes of Goa. Though the Gawda, Kunbi and Velip communities, constituting about 12 per cent of Goa’s population, are already declared as scheduled tribes, there is still no provision made for even 12 per cent reservation of seats in the Goa assembly for them, nor in the matter of government jobs or seats in educational institutions. The central and state governments are dragging their feet on this highly sensitive issue and indulging in mutual blame games. The valid and rightful claim of the Dhangar community to be also classified as ST should also be expedited by immediately issuing the necessary presidential notification.


4) Immediate steps should be taken to restart the recently closed Aparant Iron and Steel Industry Pvt Ltd at Costi in Kalay (Goa). The permission for closure was given on March 22, 2013 by citing the non-availability of calibrated iron ore lumps (CLO) from Karnataka due to the Supreme Court order. However, the fact is that less than a month later, on April 18, 2013, the Supreme Court permitted a resumption of mining in Karnataka. The permission for the said company’s value addition plant for reprocessing of by-products within the factory compound has been illegally withheld by the central government, though the state government gave the clearance in 2009. This clearly involves a case of some under the table demands by some people in the central government. The existing steel industry in Goa cannot be allowed to close down in this cavalier manner.


5) It is also necessary to roll back the various tax hikes recently imposed by the Goa government on the plea of lack of financial resources. The Goa government has to vigorously pursue the agenda of complete restructuring of centre-state finances, instead of pushing the burden on to the common man’s shoulders. Though petrol in Goa is much cheaper than anywhere else in India, life in Goa has become the costliest in India.


6) The minimum wage must be fixed at not less than Rs 10,000 per month for the lowest category of unskilled labour, with provision for dearness allowance to compensate for the price increases. The anti-worker contract system must be abolished. Labour welfare legislation must be made applicable to all workers. Right to form trade unions must be guaranteed.


7) The farmers and peasants in Goa have to be suitably compensated for the seepage of mining rejects mud into their fertile agricultural fields. The Khazan lands must be protected against inundation of saline water. Kumeri cultivators and other forest rights holders must be extended the protection of law.


8) The amount of Rs 35,000 crore looted from Goa’s state exchequer by various private mining companies must be immediately recovered in order to sustain the developmental expenditure of the state. The names of the Goans having black money accounts in foreign banks must be immediately published and the wealth which rightfully belongs to Goa’s people must be brought back to Goa.


Memorandums containing the above demands and addressed to the prime minister of India and the chief minister of Goa were submitted through the respective SDOs.


The demonstrations were conducted from 10.00 a m to 1.00 p m everyday. The demonstrators were addressed by the CPI(M)’s Goa state secretary Thalmann P Pereira, and state secretariat members Suresh S Naik, Naresh K Shigaonkar, Kamalakant K Gadekar and Jatin R Naik. The local units of the party in the four subdivisions enthusiastically mobilised the workers, peasants and women from their respective areas.


On May 20, S S Naik inaugurated the dharna at Bicholim, urging upon the participants to oppose the anti-people economic policies being unleashed by both the Congress party-led UPA government at the centre as well as the BJP-led government in Goa. He said that both the governments, led by the two principal parties, have essentially been following a set of neo-liberal economic policies in which concessions are showered on the rich while the poor were being further squeezed. Naik explained the alternative vision of the CPI(M) on the eight issues highlighted in the memorandums.


Thalmann Pereira asked the people to build up, under the leadership of the Red Flag of the CPI(M), strong resistance to the anti-people policies. He said the people must learn to organise themselves into strong mass organisations in order to make their voice heard by the deaf governments. He lambasted the state units of the BJP and Congress parties for currently engaging in a spurious debate on whether Goa should have one or two airports, when there is an all-round increase in prices and taxation of all commodities and services in Goa with the connivance of both the parties in the legislature. He urged upon the people to raise their voice of protest, and said that the resistance has to be built up by strengthening the CPI(M) in Goa.


Jatin Naik questioned the propriety of the central government in extending Z-plus security to private individuals at public expense, when the government itself has been crying hoarse about a crunch of funds. He demanded that FIRs must be immediately registered by the Goa government in respect of the loot of Rs 35,000 crore from the public exchequer by the illegal mining activities by private companies.