Iron ore mining and transport in Sonshi, Goa, India

A protest against iron ore mining and transport leading to arrest of 45 villagers including 23 women might successfully stop the projects in Sonshi village in North Goa.


After the Justice MB Shah Commission report, which exposed an alleged Rs 35,000-crore scam involving top mining companies, politicians and bureaucrats in Goa, iron ore mining and transportation was suspended from 2012 to 2014 in the state by order of the Supreme Court, the apex court of law in India (1). The mining ban was partially lifted in April 2014 by limiting yearly ore extraction to 20 million tonnes. However, the mining frenzy picked up in the last few weeks of 2016, as per locals. And with it, protests intensified against mining of iron ore and the subsequent transportation of ore laden trucks covering everything around the roadways in shades of red dust. In an interview in January, 2017, Tulshidas Velip, a Caurem resident told, "We will have to take to the streets again. That time is coming.”

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Basic Data
NameIron ore mining and transport in Sonshi, Goa, India
SiteSonshi hamlet, Sattari taluka, North Goal District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific CommoditiesIron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSonshi is an adivasi hamlet of Honda village in Sattari. It is inhabited by 60 families, and surrounded by six iron ore mines operated by the Vedanta Ltd. and Fomento companies.
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,000
Start Date01/01/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesSesa Goa Limited from India
R S Shetye and Bros
Chowgule and Company Ltd
Cosme Costa and Sons
Geetabala Manohar Naik Parulekar
V G Quenim
Kunda R Gharse
Sociedade Timblo Irmaos Limitada
Kashinath Talulikar
Sociedade De Fomento Ind Pvt Ltd
Relevant government actorsGoa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersClaude Alvares, Elvis Gomes (AAP Party),

The Goa Foundation
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
OtherNo access to clean drinking water
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Currently in 2017, following the protests, the high court gave orders to look into the air quality, due to which the Goa State Pollution Control board refused to grant 12 of the 13 mining leases consent to operate due to the severe dust pollution as well as deferred the renewable of lease. An air quality report found out that air pollution in Sonshi exceeds the permissible limit due to mining and recommended mining to be stopped.
Sources and Materials

Newspaper article about the 45 people in jail despite bail
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1. Details of the mining ban and its aftermath
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2. Sonshi, Goa protest lead to 45 people being arrested
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10. Showcause notices given to 13 mining lease holders after the protest.
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11. High Court asks the state to find a way to solve the pollution problem
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3. Villagers´protest against iron ore transport
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4. Bail set at Rs. 10000 per person
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9. Children protesting against mining and the arrest of their families
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12. State pollution control board of Goa defers leases to 12 lease holders
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8. Human Rights Commission worried over high pollution levels
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13. Report shows dangerous air quality level in the vicinity of Sonshi due to mining
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5. Villagers freed after more than 10 days in jail due to inability to pay bail.
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6. Discontent over pollution as well as lack of employment as mining resurfaces in Goa
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7. Human rights violation due to inability to secure clean air and water
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Media Links

Who is responsible for harassment of Sonshi villagers?

By Team Digital Goa - April 30, 2017, by Ravindra Velip (Mining Activist & Tribal Youth Leader)
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Other Documents

Ravindra Velip asks: Who is responsible for harassment of sonshi villagers
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Meta Information
ContributorNihar Gokhale and Brototi Roy
Last update31/07/2017