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Illegal mining and village protest in Caurem, Goa, India

State violence in 2016 against tribal leaders in Caurem village in Goa who want to stop illegal iron ore mining and transport.


Ravindra Velip, tribal activist and panch of Caurem village, was arrested on March 21 2016 along with other villagers, after they stopped trucks transporting ore from the Fomento-owned mine in the village. They were released on bail but arrested again the next day, when they once again stopped the trucks. Political parties, civil society groups and NGOs came down heavily on the Goa government after 26 March 2016, condemning the attack on Ravindra Velip while he was in judicial custody in Sada jail in south Goa. The Goa Foundation, an environmental NGO which has taken illegal mining in the state to the Supreme Court, demanded an inquiry by the Inspector General of Police (Prisons) into how unauthorised persons could enter the premises, blindfolded Velip and beat him up mercilessly. “The assault could only have been possible because of the collusion of the jail authorities. It was therefore premeditated,” Goa Foundation director Claude Alvares claimed, adding that the incident will delay total resumption of mining operations indefinitely. “Velip has consistently exposed illegalities committed by mining lease holders in Caurem. It was due to the efforts of his group that authorities located lakhs of tonnes of iron ore illegally extracted and hidden in artificial mountains under layers of mud after mining was suspended by the government,” Alvares said.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal mining and village protest in Caurem, Goa, India
State or province:Goa
Location of conflict:Caurem, Quepem Taluk
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Fomento mining company. In the Cauvrem-Pirla Panchayat there are five mining companies which are operating:

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1200
Start of the conflict:01/01/2009
Company names or state enterprises:Fomento from India
Relevant government actors:Sada sub-jail, Goa Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, State Govenrment of Goa, Inspector General of Prisons, Directorate of Mines and Geology in Goa, Director General of Police (Panaji), the Police Inspector of Mormugao Police Station (Mormugao) and Chief Secretary (Porvorim), Indian Bureau of Mines, Ministry of Environment and Forests and epartments of State viz. the Forest Department, the Goa Pollution Control Board and the Department of Mines and Geology
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Goa Foundation, Federation of Rainbow Warriors, Caurem Adivasi Bachao Samiti, Caurem-Pirla Panchayat, Goa State Schedule Tribe Action Committee
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsThe springs of the villages went dry due to pumping of the water from mining pits; the mines were operating below the water table. None of the mining company has implemented its mining closure plan and because of siltation during monsoon season, many fertile fields have been destroyed.
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Specific impacts on women, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Co-operative mining, proposed by the village assembly
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The protests by tribal leaders against illegal iron mining carried our by the Fomento company and others have been met by state violence. Villagers of Caurem were on the forefront already in 2012 to point out illegal mining going on in their village. While local leader Nilesh Gaonkar was mercilessly beaten up in 2012, in 2016 Ravindra Velip was assaulted in a judicial lock up after police arrested him and other villagers for stopping the ore transport.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

For background, book review by Sudhirendar Sharma 9 Jan. 2016 of Hartman de Souza, "Eat Dust. Mining and Greed in Goa".
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Struggle Of Caurem Village In Goa And State Repression, by Vasudha Sawaiker. 30 March, 2016.
[click to view]

Goanews, 18 April 2016, Caurem tribals march to Panaji, approaching SC to expose illegalities
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Ramachandra Guha in the Hindustan Times, 23 April 2016, report of a visit to Goa including Caurem village.
[click to view]

The Hindu (Panaji), March 26, 2016, Goa: parties, NGOs condemn attack on activist, by Prakash Kamat
[click to view]

The Herald, Goa, Can this government give Ravindra Velip and Caurem some answers? 26 Mar, 2016.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Radhika Mulay & JMA
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2286
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