Church expresses concern for mining workers in Goa

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 28, 2012 08:10 hrs

Panaji, Dec 28 (IANS) The church in Goa Friday expressed concern about thousands of mining workers who are facing the axe following a Supreme Court-enforced mining ban in the state.

"While the church cannot but condemn any illegalities in mining and the plunder of the land, her heart reaches out to the many people who have lost their livelihood as a result of the ban on the mining industry," Archbishop Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao said at an annual civic reception at the Bishop's house here.

Urging the state government to alleviate the problems of the workforce, Ferrao said: "We understand that the government is looking into the problems of these people by rehabilitating them in other industries. We sincerely hope that they will not have to suffer much longer."

"The government has been grappling with this dilemma which has pitted business and environment against each other, leading to a temporary collapse of an entire and important industry," he added.

The current mining crisis, Ferrao said, was a wake-up call for the government to revisit all its economic policies for their sustainability and adherence to human rights.

In a scathing attack on the political class, Ferrao said Goa has been witnessing "widespread ecological degradation of our land, caused by unscrupulous manipulation of a few individuals, for reasons of power and personal gain".

That these elements appeared to be "backed by - or worse still -- to be found among the legislators of the land, the problem has attained much greater proportions", he said.

A Supreme Court-enforced ban on mining in Goa, pending its investigation since October this year, has resulted in a sticky situation with thousands of workers facing the axe. Several mining companies have already started laying off workers.

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