A mining tale of Soliem, Sattari

RUPESH SAMANT (PTI), PANAJI | 01 April 2010 20:40 IST

As lawmakers in the mineral rich state of Goa verbally clashed in the state legislative assembly over the uncontrolled mining in state’s rural landscape, Soliem villagers in North Goa’s Sattari taluka have resigned to their fate and changed their occupation from `farmers’ to truck owners or mine workers.

Tucked in the hillocks, the village is home for 300-odd  people from `Gawade' community. This population belonging to the weaker economic background had tilled their land since ages.
"The offers were tempting so we could not resist it. Farming had become unviable proportion anyway for us," Rama Gawade, in his 50's, told PTI.

Soliem, a village of economically weak `Gawda' community, is amongst the many locales which have changed their profile from agro to mining economy.
Virtually, it is enveloped with the mines, extracting rich iron ore, which his exported to international destinations including China.
Walk through this village. The cluster of houses owned by tribals and noise of the trucks will inevitably force sheers run down your spine.
"The villagers are no more farmers now. Earlier almost all, sparring a few, were dependent on farming to eke out their living. Now they are truck owners or work on the mines," Ankush Gaonkar, a local sarpanch, said.
"The village houses three mines. We have heard that permissions for three more mining leases is pending with the government. With such a speed, entire village will have to be shifted," Sham Sakhalkar, a local, said.
The road, which connects the village to mainstream Goa, is dotted with several mining rejects, many of which have turned into mini hillocks. The cashew plantation is disappearing and so also the paddy fields are getting barren with no one ready to till them.
It was not so easy for the mining firms to percolate into the lives of this community labeled as `other backward classes' by the state revenue officials.
"There were initial protests. Around hundred odd people were detained when they resisted the truck moment in their village. They were taken to the police station and released," Hanumant Parab, anti mining activist, said.
But nothing happened after that as the protests died down and business went on normal here.
The mining biggies including Sesa Goa, Chowgules and Keny mines have set their plants in and around this village with thousand odd trucks ferrying the ore from here to barges, which is later shifted to bigger transshiper.
Even though Soliem villagers have given up their green land to the mining firms, the people residing downstream `Chirewal' locality raised the protest banner as the silt started accumulating in their betel-nut  farms.
The memorandums were submitted to agriculture department, which has forwarded to revenue officials, seeking compensation from the damage by mining firms.
"Annually there are 300 to 400 farmers from all over Goa who put their claim of damage to their fields or farms due to mining. The mining companies pay around Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh as compensation to the farmers annually," Satish Tendulkar, director of Agriculture, said.
He said that it is very recently that agriculture department is taken into the loop while allowing new mines in the state.

"If we find that the mines will affect agriculture activity, we send negative report to the government," Tendulkar said.

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image

Previous Comments

To what purpose or what right does any mining company have,be it government or public run, have to exploit any mining lease without proper care and consideration to the possible demise of the surrounding ecosystem . I purpose that all mining leases in all the Asian Pacific be subject to total transparent ices, and that no minerals produced from mines that are illegal and practice mining methods that are detrimental to the health of the planet be permitted for sale or further processing ,therefore making them illegal .Why should the inhabitants of any region be subjected to the possibilities of displacement from their traditional homes and lands, the possibility of poor health, the possibility of even death from the effects of mining

- Michael Warner Scott, Australia | 10 th August 2010 14:37


Thanks Rupesh! for highligtng sattaris trgedy worldwide.Actually this is just a bigining. Still more in Sattaris destiny. Applications for opening of mining lease at upper Aravalem are under process. Once this mine gets started [ which will now or later] it will destroy even Narayan nagar & Gurukrupa colony.

- mahesh tambat, Onda | 11 th June 2010 23:10


I am watching sattari's politics very closely and I think for all this stupid mining affair, Rane & sons are responsible and also with them all sattarikars are responsible, because they are continuously voting Father and he has planted all these trees now son has come to eat the fruits of these trees. Father was CM for almost 20 years and please remember these leases are given at the time of Portuguese rule and father Rane did not do anything to scrap these, now whom saattarikar will blame for…. Asssu……. Ajunue time vochog na, jage jayat ……………

- Mighty shot, Honda Goa | 06 th April 2010 16:44


The mining Lobby is so powerful, it can make or break the duly elected Governments which can be easily seen from sudden collapse of Govts. in many States including Goa! The real tragedy is that the mighty and powerful always rule by proxy! May be what we see as the rulers are not the real rulers but the puppets in the hands of the rich and the powerful?

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 06 th April 2010 08:10


hi rupesh...its really a well written article.....but this is not just case of people from sattari...my villgae tooo (Agonda, Canacona) is passing through same phase....but here its not mining but tourism industry...hope to see your next article on same...

- shweta kamat, panaji | 05 th April 2010 15:06


Dear Sandesh - Goa has beautiful names for its places and spelt in a unique way making them look and read like GOAN places. In this news site of yours, why are you all changing the names of the places? Why are you all spelling them wrongly? I can understand the outsiders who just spell them as they like and this has been followed by our Goans knowing often that these spellings are wrong. For example the beautiful name of the place ONDA is written as Honda (Car company) SATARI is spelled as Sattari, COLEM as Collem, MOLEM as Mollem, QUERIM as Kerim etc likewise many more. This only happens in the North Goa. The South Goans follow the correct spellings. If necessary take the official map (Govt.) of Goa and see the right spellings. Don't turn our Goa and its names into Non Goan names - Thanks Menino (Valpoi)

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 03 rd April 2010 14:47


The nexus between the corrupt politicians, a section of greedy people in the society and selfish sycophant babus, is a very dangerous combination capable of destroying this beautiful State! It is unfortunate to be a witness to such destruction caused by the mining activities destroying green forests, water bodies, and instead creating huge pits and dumps everywhere! Creating a new breed of the truck owners for support, is the same old tactic employed by Britishers to successfully divide, exploit and rule this vast country for years, coming all the way from thousands of miles across!

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 02 nd April 2010 08:23


Latest News