THE HIGHLIGHTS REEL
The Goa Foundation was founded in the year 1986. Its public involvement began with Goa’s first public interest litigation on the protection of the sand dunes of Salcette. Eventually, the organisation has filed more than 200 PILs in the Bombay High Court (Panaji bench) and the Supreme Court of India. In between, there have been several major initiatives which the organisation undertook as part of its founding duty to protect the Goan environment from unnecessary harm.
The “Highlights” provides a summary of the main events of those 34 years of the life of the organisation.
First Public Interest Litigation in Goa
First PIL filed in Bombay High Court (Goa Bench) for cancellation of mining leases to extract silica sands from south Goa beaches. Petition is argued successfully by Adv. Ferdinho Rebello, who is later elevated as a judge of the Bombay High Court. More than a hundred PILs would be filed by the organization thereafter for protection of various aspects of Goa’s environment: beaches, forests, rivers, turtle nesting sites, mining degradation, Konkan Railway, etc.
Western Ghats Peace March
Goa Foundation participated in the historic 100-day march through the Western Ghats, commencing November 1987.
Ecoforum launched to deal with DUPONT's Nylon 6,6 project
The Goa Foundation, together with a number of other Goan environment groups, forms ECOFORUM, with the sole purpose and objective of defeating the Nylon 6,6 project associated with US chemical multinational, Du Pont. The company retreats after a successful ECOFORUM campaign.
First Citizens' report on Goa's environment published: Fish, Curry, and Rice.
The first momentous publication of Fish Curry and Rice, a citizen’s report on Goa’s ecology and environment. The book was released in Panaji by Smt. Maneka Gandhi. It has gone into several editions ever since, with major revisions.
The Goa Law Reference is published
The Foundation published the Goa Law Reference, a major legal work that includes the draft Report of the Goa Law Commission and comprehensive list of laws existing in the State of Goa till September 30, 1997. The volume was introduced by Senior Adv. Manohar Usgaoncar, Additional Solicitor General of India.
Supreme Court of India nominates Goa Foundation to M.G.K. Menon Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Goa Foundation is nominated through its Director on the Prof.M.G.K. Menon High Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes by the Supreme Court of India. This work, which involved visiting hundreds of sites all over India, took three years to complete and ended with a judgement of the Supreme Court dated 14.10.2003. Supreme Court thereafter promptly nominated the Goa Foundation Director to a further term of environmental supervision as a member of its Monitoring Committee (SCMC) which worked from 2003 to 2007.
Ministry of Environment nominates Goa Foundation on Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA)
The Goa Foundation is nominated through its director to the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA). It is the only NGO appointed to a coastal authority set up under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Term of appointment is three years.
Goa Environment Federation started.
Goa Foundation joined with public spirited citizens and NGOs of Goa to set up an Environment Commission to conduct public hearings on Goa’s pressing environmental issues. The Commission’s hearings led to the formation of the Goa Environment Federation. The Goa Environment Federation, among other issues, took up the case of the monsoon ban on fishing, food festivals on beaches, noise pollution, plastic waste and destruction of mangroves.
Plastic-free Goa Campaign
The Foundation together with Goa Environment Federation, launched the all-Goa Plastic Free Campaign. Hundreds of Goans were involved in the project, through citizens groups, schools, NGOs, etc., to clean up public areas of plastic waste. The campaign commenced on October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti) and concluded on December 19 (Goa Liberation Day).
Goa's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
Ministry of Environment nominates Goa Foundation and the Forest Department of Goa to draft the State’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with the assistance of the State’s environmental NGOs and biodiversity researchers. Report on the State’s biodiversity and suggested plans to conserve it were submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Forests in July 2002.
Publishes Green Goa Tourist Guide
Publication of the Green Goa Tourist Guide. The newsletter, which was distributed free in shacks and hotels, provided useful information to tourists on how they could enjoy their visit to Goa without causing it environmental distress.
Norman Dantas Memorial Prize
The Norman Dantas Prize is instituted in memory of the late Norman dantas, a founder trustee of the Foundation. The first award was given to Mr Dadu Mandrekar, one of Goa’s well known Dalit poets and activists. Subsequently, other eminent persons including Gurunath Kelekar and Patricia Pinto were also awarded the Prize.
Project to Implement Garbage Regulations
The Foundation launches a project to make panchayats aware of the garbage regulations prevailing in the State and how to implement them. The project is supported by the Department of Science, Technology and Environment. The Goa Garbage Times is published as part of the project.
Innovative Rehabilitation of Mine Site commenses.
Goa Foundation commences a unique project together with Dr Margarita Correa of Auroville to rehabilitate a mining site belonging to the Dempo Mining Corporation. The Foundation joined the project on an honorary basis and effectively showed the mining company how it could recondition its degraded soils to become hospitable to plants and trees with the assistance of garbage imported from the Mapusa Municipal market, vetiver grass and EM (Effective Microorganisms).
Courses on Public Interest Litigation launched for the public.
The Foundation organizes successful courses on public interest litigation, concentrating largely on environment law. The courses are conducted in Panaji and Margao and are swamped by interested litigants who want to approach the courts on their own.
Goa Foundation files Supreme Court petition on Environment Clearances.
The Foundation files a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution in the Supreme Court challenging the grant of post-facto environment clearances. Pursuant to the petition, all mining leases in Goa are compelled to apply for environment clearances, together with some 2,000 projects in other parts of the country.
UN-GEF Small Grants Project launched.
GF launches a two year solid waste disposal waste project with financial support from the UN-GEF Global Grants Project. Several units for environmentally safe disposal of solid wastes are erected and managed across the state.
Birds of Goa book published
The Foundation releases its new book on the birds of Goa, written by the late Heinz Lainer, an ornithologist and resident of Goa for several decades.
Green Goa Works Environment Company Launched
The Goa Foundation’s concern with environmental pollution from garbage and sewage led it to initiate formation of a green company called Green Goa Works which would work exclusively on providing services to housing and estates on how to treat and convert garbage into manure, and sewage into a resource for plants. GGW has now taken over the SGPDA market in Margao and is installing new features that will ensure permanent system for cleanliness of the market.
Project to create arrangements for plastic waste launched.
The Goa Foundation takes up a separate one-year Goa government supported proposal to create effective arrangements for disposal of plastic litter in the State.
Goa Foundation takes over Goa's Largest Garbage Dump at Sonsoddo
The Goa Government approached the GF for assistance to deal with the old accumulated waste at Sonsoddo and eventually it approved the GF’s proposal to construct a landfill and clear out all the accumulated waste by 31 May 2009 at a cost of approx. Rs. 4 crores. In January 2009 the Govt disbursed over Rs. 3 crores to the MMC for the purpose and constituted a Monitoring Committee to oversee the work. The Foundation clears up the dumpsite, creates space, and after three months, organizes a tea party on the dumpsite, with the Minister for Urban Development attending. The Governor of Goa later visits the site. The project to clear the site of the accumulated waste of several decades is then killed by internal opposition from some ministers. The MMC obliges. Goa Foundation withdraws.
Goa Govt. approves GF's Plastic Waste Project
The Goa government agrees to fund a two year project of the Goa Foundation for finding solutions to plastic waste in the State. The GF worked the project with Nirmal Vishwa at its Lokvan site in Ponda. The site functions now as a collection point for waste from Bandora village and Ponda town.
Regional Plan submissions to Task Force
The Goa Foundation is heard by the Task Force on the Regional Plan. Provides background history of efforts to protect Goa’s ecology and environment which the Task Force may not have heard of.
This new network was set up with the collaboration of GAKUVED and led to a coalition of village groups and associations working to control illegal mining in the state of Goa.
Fish Processing at Mapusa Market
The Foundation works out an agreement to set up and manage a composting unit dealing exclusively with the fish wastes from the Mapusa fish market. The unit runs well for over a year before it is handed over to the municipal council to run.
Western Ghats Panel
The Foundation organised a team of Goan experts to depose in detail before the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel on all aspects of the Western Ghats in Goa.
Justice M.B. Shah Commission Enquiry Into Illegal Mining
The Foundation made a detailed presentation before the Commission on all aspects of illegal mining in Goa, in addition to submitting a written document with important exhibits.
Foundation moves the National Green Tribunal on the Western Ghat Panel Report
Together with other NGOs working in the Western Ghats, the Foundation files an application before the National Green Tribunal to seek implementation of the recommendations made in the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel (WGEEP) set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Tribunal grants interim relief, and restrains the authorities from granting environment clearance for any project falling with the ESZ1 zone declared by the Panel.
Mining in Goa halted by Supreme Court
On 5th October 2012, the Supreme Court of India, on a writ petition filed by the Goa Foundation under Article 32 of the Constitution, disallows the re-start of mining in the State of Goa till further notice. Judgement on the petition was delivered by the Supreme Court’s Green Bench on 21.4.2014. The judgement required State of Goa to set up the Goan Iron Ore Permanent Fund to receive part of the revenues from the sale of minerals including iron ore for the use of future generations. For more details:
Supreme Court Declares 5 Years of Mining in Goa as Illegal
The Supreme Court allows Goa Foundation’s writ petition (No. 435/2012) filed against the mining industry in Goa. In an unprecedented judgment, a three judge bench of the Court declares that all mining leases in Goa granted by the erstwhile Portuguese colonial regime expired on 22.11.2007. As a result, it also declares all mining operations from 22.11.2007 to 10.9.2012 illegal. Mining can restart only after Goa govt grants fresh leases and only after miners obtain fresh environment clearances. The Court also strikes down the automatic continuance of mining leases across the country after the expiry of the first renewal period. The judgement leads to changes in India’s mining laws by 2015.
Goa Foundation Launches Goenchi Mati Movement
The Goenchi Mati Movement (GMM) was set up by the Goa Foundation to focus specific and exclusive attention on the issue of intergenerational equity, the wise use of Goa’s mineral resources, the proper administration of the Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund and related issues. A separate website was created for GMM.
Goa Foundation appeals a Bombay High Court judgement allowing lease renewals
The Bombay High Court on a petition filed by 28 former lease holders directs the Goa government to grant them second renewal of their leases despite the judgment of the Supreme Court dated 21.4.2014. The Goa Foundation, though not a party in the original petitions, appeals the judgement before the Supreme Court.
Goa Foundation files a petition to cancel all 88 mining leases renewed
From November 2014 to January 12, 2015, the Goa government approves the second renewal of 88 mining leases in the state of Goa, disregarding the directions of the Supreme Court of India. The Goa Foundation files a petition in the Supreme Court challenging all the 88 second lease renewal orders.
The Foundation files a PIL for drinking water to mining village, Sonshi
The Goa Foundation files a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court for ensuring supply of drinking water to the village of Sonshi affected by indiscriminate mining transport operations. The High Court expands the scope of the petition to include the District Mineral Foundation and its functioning in the state. Eventually, the PWD using funds from the DMF lays lines for supply of water to the village, in addition to all the village families getting water storage tanks as well.
Supreme Court cancels renewals of all 88 mining leases
The Supreme Court by a detailed judgment cancels the 88 mining leases granted second renewals in the state of Goa and brings all mining operations to a halt by 16 March 2018. It also allows the appeal filed by Goa Foundation against judgment of the Bombay High Court dated 13.8.2014.
Goa Foundation approaches Goa Lokayukta against officials involved in the grant of second renewals
The Goa Foundation files a complaint before the Goa Lokayukta for action to be taken under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the Chief Minister (Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar), Secretary, Mines (Mr. Pawan Kumar Sains) and Director of Mines & Geology (Mr. Prasanna Acharya) for corruption in the grant of 88 mining leases.
Goa Lokayukta upholds Goa Foundation’s complaint
After a detailed investigation, the Lokayukta admits the complaint of the Goa Foundation against the three officials who approved 88 mining leases in favour of mining companies. He orders their prosecution and recommends their removal from public office.
Supreme Court Writ Petition to Protect Western Ghats
The Goa Foundation – together with 22 other petitioners, including several minors – files a writ petition under Article 32 in the Supreme Court for action to be taken in relation to the ecology of the Western Ghats and its absolute conservation. The petition seeks implementation of the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel (WGEEP) headed by Dr Madhav Gadgil.
Public Interest Litigation Course launched
The Goa Foundation resumes its popular public interest litigation course for the citizens and social activists of the state from the month of February 2020. More than 80 participants registered for the course conducted in the city of Panaji.
Challenging Destructive Infrastructure Projects through Bhagwan Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park
In June 2020, the Foundation approached the Central Empowered Committee (associated with the Supreme Court of India) to look at the minutes of the National Board for Wildlife regarding three major infrastructure projects coming up in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park. In July 2020, it also approached the High Court of Bombay at Goa with a PIL challenging the Guidelines that were issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forests permitting human-related development projects in violation of the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Bombay High Court at Goa has issued notices to all parties involved.
Subsequently, the Goa Foundation filed a fresh PIL challenging the approvals granted for felling of 2670 forest trees in the village of Sangod (outside Mollem) to make way for an electricity sub-station. That petition has been admitted by the Bombay High Court.
Thereafter, the Goa Foundation has filed another petition challenging the alignment of the 400 kV High Tension Line through the forests of Goa. The petition also challenges the forest clearances granted for the project. The High Court has issued notice in the matter.
On 23.4.2021, the CEC submitted a two volume report to the Supreme Court in which it examined the Goa Foundation complaint filed in June 2020 and recommended a) cancellation of the rail track doubling in the Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park; cancelling the 400 kV high transmission line through the WLS; and holding that an Environment Clearance is required for the NH4A highway expansion project.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court cancelled the doubling of the railway track through the wildlife sanctuary and national park, casting doubt on the economic feasibility of the double-track through Goa as a whole. It also cancelled the Tamnar 400 kV High Tension Line alignment through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. It is yet to take up the issue of the expansion of the National Highway through the WLS/NP.
Mining Leases Finally Terminate; Govt orders return of lease areas
On 4.5.2022, the Goa government, under challenge from the Goa Foundation, finally issued orders for recall of all leased areas covered by the 88 leases cancelled by the Supreme Court of India on 7.2.2018 (Goa Foundation II). Large number of former leaseholders challenged the orders before the High Court. The High Court, after listening to the Goa Foundation and the Goa government, rejected the challenges to the lease recovery orders. Appeals against the High Court’s orders were rejected by the Apex Court on 21.11.2022, thus bringing to a final end, all legal challenges to the termination of leases granted as concessions under the Portuguese colonial mining laws.
CITIZENS SUPPORT HUB INAUGURATED
The Goa Foundation sets up the first citizens’ support hub in the country. The Hub was inaugurated on June 5, 2023, World Environment Day, by Architect Kamlakar Sadhale, Goa’s oldest environmentalist. Huge number of NGOs and citizens attended the function. The premises for the Hub were made available through an arrangement with a public-spirited couple from Panaji, Arnaldo do Carmo Lobo and his wife Nizia do Carmo Lobo. The Hub is being made available to all public spirited groups, citizens, social activists and NGOs to use for their specific campaigns. It will provide pro bono legal assistance to people who need it (solely restricted to public matters, not private cases). The Hub is equipped with display screen, copier, computer, printer and high speed internet.