25 October, 2020

And She Wore Iron

Cheryl D’Souza, unlikely green warrior, takes on south Goa’s mining mafia

And She Wore Iron

We are in Cheryl D’Souza’s Gypsy and she’s driving like the devil’s on her tail. D’Souza’s long brown hair blows in the wind while she talks with one hand, expertly shifting gears with the other. We fly past the paradisiacal landscape: fields of dazzling emerald, lush beckoning jungle, craggy, sacred mountains and ancient shiv lingams crowned with mogra. Interspersed with— and jarring to the core (are we really in Goa?)— red, open wounds, shorn naked earth, haphazard devastation. On the man-made ridges, massive yellow backhoes carry on, ripping out the forest, levelling the hills, creating deep craters, loading the earth on trucks. We pass a pretty, Monet-like garden by the side of the road. “It doesn’t stand a chance,” says Cheryl, looking straight ahead, “it will be dead and swallowed by the first rains.” We are returning to Cheryl’s farm in the village of Maina, back from the neighbouring Caurem (district Quepem), where the women have risen against the mining...



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