Lamgao village in Bicholim, which is known for its Buddhist caves – is situated below a mine, and as the rain abounds, villagers have begun to worry about their fate once mining restarts.
The worry of the people was conveyed to the government by Bicholim MLA Dr Chandrakant Shetye as an “alert” during Question Hour of the Goa Legislative Assembly to be “prepared if the mining pits get overfilled with water”.
As the rain clouds get thicker over the valley where the populace resides, villager Nakul, with a stick in hand, walks past a green hill towards a temple where a water body exists.
“I believe they are pumping water from the pits above and controlling the water. Now that mining is going to start, we are worried about what will happen because the full village can get submerged if the water is not controlled,” says Nakul as he walks with measured steps.
On top of the village is a mine that is not yet operational, but the groundwork seems to have started with heavy-duty machinery already being moved in.
Two heavy-duty pumps can be heard pumping water from mining pits and their flow can be heard creating pathways for water to flow through.
“The two pumps are pumping the water in the pits, through ducts created underground, to areas around the village. The flow is controlled, and no one should worry about the water overflowing,” admits a worker near one of the pits.
The water in the pits is nowhere close to overflowing, but instead, adds grandeur to the greenery that covers the area that once must have been the hub of mining activity.
Apart from security, human existence is scarce, though peacocks abound.
The road of the village ends near a temple which is surrounded by another water body on one side and a mud road that leads to areas where signs of movement of heavy machinery are evident, indicating the mining area.
“This mine once belonged to Dempo, and they sold it to Sesa. We have had no problem so far with water flowing from the mining pits, but are worried about what will happen once they start excavating for more mines,” says Nakul.
The heavy rains of the last few days witnessed water flowing down the hill into Lamgao village, but none felt threatened as the water took its determined course.
“Plenty of water flowed down from the hill, but it didn’t worry us as the water passed through the channels created for their flow. The village sounded different with the flow of the water, but that was it,” said Vinati as she cleaned the front porch of her house.
Peacock cries mixed with the sound of the two water pumps at the pits of the mines.
Vivek is the only sign of human life around and looks at peace as the rain clouds burst. “I have been around this place for over twenty years and can say that the area where the water is collected is rocky. There is no way it can burst down into the village,” says Vivek confidently.
“At certain times of the year, people come here in groups to discover the caves. But, see how beautiful these ponds are during the monsoons. Sad, people do nothing to draw tourists here during the monsoon,” says Arun, as it is time to take cover from the rain under the branches of trees.
As the rain pours and the flow of the man-made streams picks pace, the villagers of Lamgao will continue living with nature’s garland around them until machines signal the start of mining activity in the area.