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Scrap mining projects in Hasdeo forests: Friends of Hasdeo Aranya

Rights groups and invested experts discuss the Hasdeo mining project controversy in Chhattisgarh

Sabrangindia 26 May 2022

Hasdeo

Friends of Hasdeo Aranya demanded the immediate cancellation of all coal mining projects in the region during a press conference on May 25, 2022 at the Press Club of India, New Delhi. Many peasant leaders and field experts attended and spoke about the need to protect the forests of Chhattisgarh.

As many as 50 people attended demanded that the government implement all provisions of the PESA Act 1996 that require prior consent from Gram Sabhas for land acquisition, unlike the provisions of the Coal Bearing-Areas Act 1957.

Organisers played a short documentary on the Hasdeo Forests after which, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan’s Alok Shukla, Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, environmental researcher Kanchi Kohli, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Kavita Srivastava, Delhi’s Tribal Collective’s Dr Jitendra Meena, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leader Hannan Mollah and National Alliance of People’s Movement’s (NAPM) Rajendra Ravi spoke during the event.

Alok Shukla spoke about how there have been decades-long opposition from local communities against the two 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.

However, their pleas were ignored even though the area comes under the Fifth Schedule. The congregation demanded cancellation of the forest/ environment clearances relating to Parsa coal block and an immediate FIR against the relevant company and officials for “forged gram sabha consent”. Further, they called for proper implementation of “free prior informed consent” from gram sabhas before land acquisition and allocation in Schedule 5 areas.

“To save the environment of Hasdeo, the state government in its reports even in 2021 has agreed that mining should not be done here,” said Shukla.

With the latest clearance given, over 4.5 lakh trees are likely to be felled over more than 6,500 acres of forest land. Moreover, there is news of a third mining project – Kete Extension – that will further affect the environment. Shukla stated that these projects are given clearances to “make Adani profitable” at the cost of the ecosystem.

Adding to his statement, Kohli emphasised that this issue is a national and a global issue, especially from the point of view of environmental destruction and impending climate crisis. Such issues have become political with the government accepting significant elephant presence in one instance then dismissing elephant presence as “little and infrequent” while handing clearances.

“No relevant research or SIA has been taken up by the government to map the severe impacts on water, forest, local tribal people, their livelihoods and traditional-cultural practices, due to the mining projects. Hasdeo [project] may be able to get all legal sanctions and clearances, but it will never be able to get the environmental and social legitimacy,” said Kohli.

Moderator Kavita Srivastava accused the state government of threatening and scaring citizens with possibilities of state-wide black-out due to insufficient coal.

“The government has been making a hue and cry over the shortage of electricity, while their own policies on power state that coal-fed electricity cannot last for long, and thus there is a need to generate electricity through new renewable methods. Despite their own policy, the state government is emphasising meeting electricity needs from coal sources,” se said.

Extending solidarity to local communities Mollah asked people not to lose hope because, “If we are defeated, not only will we lose but our natural and constitutional rights will lose, the environment and ultimately humanity, all will also lose together.”

Further, he said that the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will organise a convention at Raipur and then at Delhi to highlight the Hasdeo issue and other such movements regarding land acquisition for developmental projects.

Ravi criticized the Congress-led governments of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan for mining in Hasdeo while accusing the BJP of helping Adani.

“The hypocrisy of Congress clearly becomes visible here. The farmers are protesting in four corners of Delhi, defeating the central government, now such struggles need to be taken forward at a widespread level,” he said.

For this, Prof. Apoorvanand called for public education of the masses about the jal-jungle-zameen struggle. He pointed out that even if the Hasdeo controversy is considered a local issue, there is a need to engage with it.

“If Rahul Gandhi says that he does not agree with such a mining policy, then he will have to take some action on it. If Australians can resist Adani to this day, we must too. Our duty now is to make more people aware of this issue and strengthen the solidarity with ongoing protests by local communities,” said Apoorvanand.

Similarly, Meena spoke about Advasis’ intricate relationship to nature. Yet globally, governments occupy their land in the name of ‘development’. Since colonial times, indigenous groups have been termed “uneducated” and their livelihood is snatched away in the name of making them “modern”.

“Adivasis have been unflinchingly fighting to protect their jal-jungle-zameen. Extending solidarity to local communities who are protesting, all movements should come together and fight for Adivasi rights,” she said.

Collectively, the groups called for restoration of community forest rights of Ghatbarra village which was illegally cancelled. Members asserted that Adivasis deserve recognition of all Community Forest Resource Rights and Individual Forest Rights titles across Hasdeo Aranya.

Related:

Jal, Jungle, Zameen: Chhattisgarh Adivasis march 300kms to oppose coal mining projects

Dilution of environmental laws, a persistent tactic: AIUFWP

India farmers, Adivasis and forest dwellers condemn FCA draft changes

Chhattisgarh: Ministry of Coal plan to acquire nearly 2000 hectares of protected forest land

Scrap mining projects in Hasdeo forests: Friends of Hasdeo Aranya

Rights groups and invested experts discuss the Hasdeo mining project controversy in Chhattisgarh

Hasdeo

Friends of Hasdeo Aranya demanded the immediate cancellation of all coal mining projects in the region during a press conference on May 25, 2022 at the Press Club of India, New Delhi. Many peasant leaders and field experts attended and spoke about the need to protect the forests of Chhattisgarh.

As many as 50 people attended demanded that the government implement all provisions of the PESA Act 1996 that require prior consent from Gram Sabhas for land acquisition, unlike the provisions of the Coal Bearing-Areas Act 1957.

Organisers played a short documentary on the Hasdeo Forests after which, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan’s Alok Shukla, Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, environmental researcher Kanchi Kohli, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Kavita Srivastava, Delhi’s Tribal Collective’s Dr Jitendra Meena, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leader Hannan Mollah and National Alliance of People’s Movement’s (NAPM) Rajendra Ravi spoke during the event.

Alok Shukla spoke about how there have been decades-long opposition from local communities against the two 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.

However, their pleas were ignored even though the area comes under the Fifth Schedule. The congregation demanded cancellation of the forest/ environment clearances relating to Parsa coal block and an immediate FIR against the relevant company and officials for “forged gram sabha consent”. Further, they called for proper implementation of “free prior informed consent” from gram sabhas before land acquisition and allocation in Schedule 5 areas.

“To save the environment of Hasdeo, the state government in its reports even in 2021 has agreed that mining should not be done here,” said Shukla.

With the latest clearance given, over 4.5 lakh trees are likely to be felled over more than 6,500 acres of forest land. Moreover, there is news of a third mining project – Kete Extension – that will further affect the environment. Shukla stated that these projects are given clearances to “make Adani profitable” at the cost of the ecosystem.

Adding to his statement, Kohli emphasised that this issue is a national and a global issue, especially from the point of view of environmental destruction and impending climate crisis. Such issues have become political with the government accepting significant elephant presence in one instance then dismissing elephant presence as “little and infrequent” while handing clearances.

“No relevant research or SIA has been taken up by the government to map the severe impacts on water, forest, local tribal people, their livelihoods and traditional-cultural practices, due to the mining projects. Hasdeo [project] may be able to get all legal sanctions and clearances, but it will never be able to get the environmental and social legitimacy,” said Kohli.

Moderator Kavita Srivastava accused the state government of threatening and scaring citizens with possibilities of state-wide black-out due to insufficient coal.

“The government has been making a hue and cry over the shortage of electricity, while their own policies on power state that coal-fed electricity cannot last for long, and thus there is a need to generate electricity through new renewable methods. Despite their own policy, the state government is emphasising meeting electricity needs from coal sources,” se said.

Extending solidarity to local communities Mollah asked people not to lose hope because, “If we are defeated, not only will we lose but our natural and constitutional rights will lose, the environment and ultimately humanity, all will also lose together.”

Further, he said that the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will organise a convention at Raipur and then at Delhi to highlight the Hasdeo issue and other such movements regarding land acquisition for developmental projects.

Ravi criticized the Congress-led governments of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan for mining in Hasdeo while accusing the BJP of helping Adani.

“The hypocrisy of Congress clearly becomes visible here. The farmers are protesting in four corners of Delhi, defeating the central government, now such struggles need to be taken forward at a widespread level,” he said.

For this, Prof. Apoorvanand called for public education of the masses about the jal-jungle-zameen struggle. He pointed out that even if the Hasdeo controversy is considered a local issue, there is a need to engage with it.

“If Rahul Gandhi says that he does not agree with such a mining policy, then he will have to take some action on it. If Australians can resist Adani to this day, we must too. Our duty now is to make more people aware of this issue and strengthen the solidarity with ongoing protests by local communities,” said Apoorvanand.

Similarly, Meena spoke about Advasis’ intricate relationship to nature. Yet globally, governments occupy their land in the name of ‘development’. Since colonial times, indigenous groups have been termed “uneducated” and their livelihood is snatched away in the name of making them “modern”.

“Adivasis have been unflinchingly fighting to protect their jal-jungle-zameen. Extending solidarity to local communities who are protesting, all movements should come together and fight for Adivasi rights,” she said.

Collectively, the groups called for restoration of community forest rights of Ghatbarra village which was illegally cancelled. Members asserted that Adivasis deserve recognition of all Community Forest Resource Rights and Individual Forest Rights titles across Hasdeo Aranya.

Related:

Jal, Jungle, Zameen: Chhattisgarh Adivasis march 300kms to oppose coal mining projects

Dilution of environmental laws, a persistent tactic: AIUFWP

India farmers, Adivasis and forest dwellers condemn FCA draft changes

Chhattisgarh: Ministry of Coal plan to acquire nearly 2000 hectares of protected forest land

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