Fight against incessant transportation by Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Mayem, Goa

Mayem Goa mining

Mayem village in Goa connects Bandodakar Tixel Jetty to Bicholim, this route is used for transportation of mineral ore by the mining transportation companies and Almost 17,696.69 MT of mineral ore out of the total quantity of 23,667.620 MT was transported between 08.01.2024 and 17.01.2024. the trucks were operational right from 4.30 a.m. in the morning till 6.30 p.m. in the evening leading to damage of village roads and inconvenience to the schools. It is a source of pollution that has affected the entire villagers.

The impact of transportation operations on the villages is not assessed in the environment clearance letter.  The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued the Office Memorandum (OM) dated 29.10.2014.  This OM incorporates conditions as a part of mitigation measures to avoid the adverse impact of mining operations on habitations/villages that are surrounded by mining lease areas[1].

On January 13, 2024 the villagers of Mayem village, Bicholim Goa protested against the transportation of Ore through the internal village roads by trucks. Aggrieved by their protest, police personnel under the guidance of deputy collector Rhoan Kaskar detained five protestors.[2]

The Right to protest is recognized under several international instruments, including:

                I.          The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 8),

              II.          Article 5 (a) of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1998 states that “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to meet or assemble peacefully”.

In Anita Thakur v. State of J&K, (2016) 15 SCC 525 it was observed the Supreme court that:-

12…holding peaceful demonstration in order to air their grievances and to see that their voice is heard in the relevant quarters is the right of the people. Such a right can be traced to the fundamental freedom that is guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(a), 19(1)(b) and 19(1)(c) of the Constitution. Article 19(1)(a) confers freedom of speech to the citizens of this country and, thus, this provision ensures that the petitioners could raise slogan, albeit in a peaceful and orderly manner, without using offensive language. Article 19(1)(b) confers the right to assemble and, thus, guarantees that all citizens have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms. Right to move freely given under Article 19(1)(d), again, ensures that the petitioners could take out peaceful march. The “right to assemble” is beautifully captured in an eloquent statement that “an unarmed, peaceful protest procession in the land of “salt satyagraha”, fast-unto-death and “do or die” is no jural anathema”. It hardly needs elaboration that a distinguishing feature of any democracy is the space offered for legitimate dissent. One cherished and valuable aspect of political life in India is a tradition to express grievances through direct action or peaceful protest. Organised, non-violent protest marches were a key weapon in the struggle for Independence, and the right to peaceful protest is now recognised as a fundamental right in the Constitution.”

Human Rights Defenders alert appealed to NHRC to take suo moto cognizance of this incident and initiate an independent inquiry through NHRC’s investigation wing.

The Villagers also approached the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay bench at Goa through a public interest litigation (PIL) No. 6 of 2024.[3]

According to the High court order dated 17 January 2024,

19…in this case, the DMG and GSPCB have tried to pass the buck to each other and in the bargain, both these authorities, at least prima facie, have gone by the routes submitted by the seventh respondent, i.e. the purchaser of the ore and its transporter without any of them, themselves applying their minds.  As noted above, there was no clarity on the roles each of these authorities were required to play in this all-important issue of transportation of ore through villages.

21. …The seventh Respondent will restrict the trips to only fifty per day and that too, between 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. …this schedule will be strictly adhered to until the balance of 5,970.93 MT of ore is transported.

25. Installation of close circuit cameras and additional monitoring stations must be completed as expeditiously as possible and preferably within the next two to three days.  This is because until then, the seventh respondent should not continue with the transportation through the Mayem village.

28. Since there is no clarity on the procedures for granting permissions for transportation or ores through villages, and at least prima facie, we get the impression that DMG and GSPCB are passing the buck on each other without each of them assuming any responsibility, we direct that until the next date, no permissions shall be granted for transportation of ore by private parties through villages, without the leave of this Court.”

The High court observed that transportation of trucks through the village is causing pollution and there is no clarity of roles and lack of monitoring in issue of transportation of ore through villages. It also ordered Installation of close circuit cameras and additional monitoring stations expeditiously and ordered to stop the transportation till then.

Ashish Reddy is an Advocate and legal researcher who is currently serving as a Regional Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA)for southern India. He is also a member of the All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with State and National Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI).

[1] Clause 2(i) of the OM dated 29.10.2014 reads as follows: “Transportation of the minerals by road passing through the village shall not be allowed. A “bypass” road should be constructed (say, leaving a gap of at least 200 meters) for the purpose of transportation of the minerals so that the impact of sound, dust and accidents could be mitigated. The PP shall bear the cost towards the widening and strengthening of existing public road network in case the same is proposed to be used for the Project. No road movement should be allowed on existing village road network without appropriately increasing the carrying capacity of such roads.”

[2] “Mayem Locals Protest Ore Transportation, 5 Detained,” The Times of India, January 14, 2024, be

[3] “Don’t Issue Permits to Transport Ore Throughvillages, HC Tells Govt,” The Times of India, January 18, 2024,

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