Mining belt in North Goa, which was once buzzing with activity, seems impervious to the high-octane election campaign steered by BJP and Congress as people are more concerned about resumption of mining which was their major source of livelihood.
The long stretches of tarred roads in the mining belt of Bicholim and Sattari talukas now wear a deserted look as people and vehicles hardly use them since mining was banned by the Supreme Court in 2012.
“Election doesn’t seem to enthuse anyone. People will vote for those whom they feel like voting. Everyone is busy asking a question ‘when will mines start’. No one is interested in politics,” said Suresh Desai, a senior pro-mining leader from Sattari’s Honda village.
Life has come to standstill in this iron ore-rich belt where rag-to-riches stories are abound.
Desai’s father Venkatesh Desai had served as Panchayat Minister in Congress regime and is now rubbing shoulders with the Communists in their fight to resume mining under the aegis of ‘Goa Mining People’s Front’.
“No one is interested in elections. Whoever assures to start the mining activity can chance a vote,” said a retired teacher from Sattari.
“It’s simple, whoever starts my truck can get my vote,” he said summing the mood among locals.
Long queues of trucks parked along roadside, shops doing scarce business and people refusing to move out of their houses in scorching heat mirror the ground reality in this
mining hotbed from where the last load of iron ore was exported way back in September 2012.
“People have now channelised their fortunes to matka gambling where they expect to strike gold so that they can earn,” said Dayanand Narvekar, an independent candidate, back from touring the constituency which comprises twenty Assembly segments.