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Environment Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Chhattisgarh gov’t halts three Hasdeo Arand mining projects

Activists demand that the projects be scrapped altogether

Sabrangindia 10 Jun 2022

Mining Project
Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Days after Chhattisgarh’s tribal communities in HasdeoArand forest garnered support from government officials, three mining projects in the area were indefinitely put on hold, reported the Hindustan Times on June 10, 2022.

On October 14, 2021 as many as 350 tribals marched from Sarguja and Korba districts towards Raipur to meet Governor AnusuiyaUike and Chief Minister BhupeshBaghel. Community members wished to talk about the proposed coal mining projects in HasdeoArand region which is considered the ‘lungs’ of the region.

The area also includes a traditional elephant habitat and a catchment area for Hasdeo and Mand rivers, which irrigate the northern and central plains. As such, villagers have been protesting against mining projects for the last 10 years.

These sustained protests finally garnered support from Health Minister T. S. Singhdeo, who visited his own constituency Surguja as well as Surajpur on June 6, 2022, said the Hindustan Times. Singhdeo promised to take the first blow for the people if protesters are subjected to violence. Similarly, Chief Minister BhupeshBaghel on June 7 declared that not a single branch will be chopped without the consent of Singhdeo. Accordingly, collectors were instructed to halt all mining projects.

However, while netizens celebrate this move, activists speaking to the newspaper asked that the government scrap the projects altogether.

During a meeting on May 26, Chhattisgarh BachaoAndolan Convener Alok Shukla spoke about how there have been decades-long opposition from local communities against the mining projects that have received clearances from the Chhattisgarh government. Locals claim that these clearances were approved through serious irregularities like a forged gram sabha resolution, cancellation of their forest rights titles, illegal land acquisition, and administrative. For the last three years, villagers have repeatedly asked for an inquiry into this matter and even met the Chief Minister and Governor after a 300 km march. As such, he stressed the need to cancel the projects.

According to the Indian Express, all public hearings in the area related to mining have also been cancelled like the hearings for Kente extension and Parsa. However, while the matter was to be heard on June 13, the village sarpanch and others learnt about the cancellation on June 9. Meanwhile, district authorities issued the letter intimating the same on June 7. As such, the gram sabha has already convened and it recorded its verdict.

The HasdeoArand coalfield, spread over 1,878 sq km in the northern part of the state, comprises 23 coal blocks. In 2009, the Union Environment Ministry categorised the region as a “no-go” zone for mining but later said the policy was not “finalised”.

Yet an earlier report by the Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Services (PCPSPS) said the government had failed in its duty to develop and augment existing coal mines while handing over more land to private companies for such projects. The three projects in discussion have been allotted to the Rajasthan RajyaVidyutUtpadan Nigam (RRVUL). Both these states are governed by the Congress party.

Activists working on both Adivasi rights and the environment and climate change have been repeatedly asking the party to listen to people’s grievances.

Related:

GoI has failed in its duties towards coal provisions: PCPSPS
Scrap mining projects in Hasdeo forests: Friends of HasdeoAranya
Jal, Jungle, Zameen: Chhattisgarh Adivasis march 300kms to oppose coal mining projects
Dilution of environmental laws, a persistent tactic: AIUFWP

Chhattisgarh gov’t halts three Hasdeo Arand mining projects

Activists demand that the projects be scrapped altogether

Mining Project
Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Days after Chhattisgarh’s tribal communities in HasdeoArand forest garnered support from government officials, three mining projects in the area were indefinitely put on hold, reported the Hindustan Times on June 10, 2022.

On October 14, 2021 as many as 350 tribals marched from Sarguja and Korba districts towards Raipur to meet Governor AnusuiyaUike and Chief Minister BhupeshBaghel. Community members wished to talk about the proposed coal mining projects in HasdeoArand region which is considered the ‘lungs’ of the region.

The area also includes a traditional elephant habitat and a catchment area for Hasdeo and Mand rivers, which irrigate the northern and central plains. As such, villagers have been protesting against mining projects for the last 10 years.

These sustained protests finally garnered support from Health Minister T. S. Singhdeo, who visited his own constituency Surguja as well as Surajpur on June 6, 2022, said the Hindustan Times. Singhdeo promised to take the first blow for the people if protesters are subjected to violence. Similarly, Chief Minister BhupeshBaghel on June 7 declared that not a single branch will be chopped without the consent of Singhdeo. Accordingly, collectors were instructed to halt all mining projects.

However, while netizens celebrate this move, activists speaking to the newspaper asked that the government scrap the projects altogether.

During a meeting on May 26, Chhattisgarh BachaoAndolan Convener Alok Shukla spoke about how there have been decades-long opposition from local communities against the mining projects that have received clearances from the Chhattisgarh government. Locals claim that these clearances were approved through serious irregularities like a forged gram sabha resolution, cancellation of their forest rights titles, illegal land acquisition, and administrative. For the last three years, villagers have repeatedly asked for an inquiry into this matter and even met the Chief Minister and Governor after a 300 km march. As such, he stressed the need to cancel the projects.

According to the Indian Express, all public hearings in the area related to mining have also been cancelled like the hearings for Kente extension and Parsa. However, while the matter was to be heard on June 13, the village sarpanch and others learnt about the cancellation on June 9. Meanwhile, district authorities issued the letter intimating the same on June 7. As such, the gram sabha has already convened and it recorded its verdict.

The HasdeoArand coalfield, spread over 1,878 sq km in the northern part of the state, comprises 23 coal blocks. In 2009, the Union Environment Ministry categorised the region as a “no-go” zone for mining but later said the policy was not “finalised”.

Yet an earlier report by the Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Services (PCPSPS) said the government had failed in its duty to develop and augment existing coal mines while handing over more land to private companies for such projects. The three projects in discussion have been allotted to the Rajasthan RajyaVidyutUtpadan Nigam (RRVUL). Both these states are governed by the Congress party.

Activists working on both Adivasi rights and the environment and climate change have been repeatedly asking the party to listen to people’s grievances.

Related:

GoI has failed in its duties towards coal provisions: PCPSPS
Scrap mining projects in Hasdeo forests: Friends of HasdeoAranya
Jal, Jungle, Zameen: Chhattisgarh Adivasis march 300kms to oppose coal mining projects
Dilution of environmental laws, a persistent tactic: AIUFWP

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