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Excessive mining has led to the pollution of a key reservoir that supplies water to 55 percent of the population in the tropical Indian state of Goa, contends Video Volunteers Community Correspondent, Devidas Gaonkar. With eight fully-functioning mines in its periphery, the reservoir is particularly susceptible to contamination during the monsoons, as pollutant-laden floodwaters spill into rivers and make their way downstream towards the Salaulim Dam.
A resident of South Goa, Mr. Gaonkar has seen the waters of Salaulim Dam turn poisonous every monsoon. In response to what he has witnessed over the past six years, Mr. Gaonkar has produced a video documenting the deleterious effects of mining on water resources and community health. “Due to excessive iron and manganese ore content in the water, those who drink it may suffer from heart disease, mental illnesses, and digestive problems. Not many people are aware of this, and I hope that my video will open their eyes.”
With 800 mines in an area of under 4,000 square kilometers, mining is second only to tourism as Goa’s largest industry. The state’s lenient laws have also allowed illegal mines to flourish, causing excessive and previously undocumented damage to the environment and water supply.
Mining in India disproportionately affects the country’s Tribals, original inhabitants of South Asia who reside primarily in the hills and mountains. As a former journalist for a state-run newspaper and as a Tribal living in the area most affected by the mining practices, Mr. Gaonkar now chronicles abuses that had formerly been expunged from the mainstream press. As most media in Goa is controlled by the mining companies, who are the most powerful corporations in the state, Mr. Gaonkar’s articles on mining went unpublished. Now, as a member of IndiaUnheard, he addresses the issues of excessive mining which directly impact his life and community.
IndiaUnheard is a feature service of international media and human rights organization Video Volunteers. It aims to provide a platform for disadvantaged communities throughout the country to voice their concerns.
“Devidas was our very first Community Correspondent for IndiaUnheard,” says Stalin K, co-founder of Video Volunteers. “IndiaUnheard has an eye out for youth who not only have journalistic skills, but also a passion for change and the empowerment of their communities. We are proud to have Devidas on board.”