Raipur: Just a week after of taking out 300-km long stretch padyatra ( foot march) by tribal villagers of Hasdeo Aranya forests, the Ministry of Forest and Environment (MOEF) granted clearance for coal block mining in the region. It has shocked and disappointed, entire tribal community and common man across the state who have faith in constitution, parliamentary democracy and opposed to any infringement of rights of tribals in fifth schedule area.
Secondly, hundreds of marching tribals were promised by the Governor Anusuiya Uikey and Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel during their meeting in Raipur that their rights will be protected, and investigation will be carried out in the fake gramshabha issue.
However, before any probe started or report get tabled in the fake gramsabha recommendation report related to mining, on October 21, the MOEF permitted stage II clearance for mining in the Parsa coal block, Hasdeo Arand area, Chhattisgarh.
Despite tribals are protesting against allocation for six coal blocks in the area, Paras coal block was not only allocated but also granted permission for mining, activists alleged.
Notably, Parsa East and Kente Basan is an open pit coal mine having capacity 15 million ton-per-annum (MTPA) operated by Adani Group and owned by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (RRVUNL). It is also the block where the mining companies and the government faced strong resistance from the indigenous tribes.
While the letter from the Union government states that the decision has been taken on the basis of the compliance report forwarded by the state government.
Alok Shukla, convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, told FPJ, “ Recent decision of the MOEF shows that state and union government are working under pressure of Corporates to serve their interests not concerned about violation of tribal rights in fifth schedule area where PESA implies. They started attacking on the rights of tribals”.
What could be more disappointing, “Rahul Gandhi, publicly promises tribals rights will be protected if his CM governs the state, irony is Congress CM takes U-turn over it.”.
However, we have decided to fight the battle with democratic means. We will challenge it in court and NGT. We will also stage demonstration in-front of MOEF Headquarters Delhi and complain it to Congress central leadership, Shukla said.
With the forest clearance for Parsa coal mining, it was evident that forest villages like Hariharpur, Fattepur, Salhe will be uprooted and around 650 people will be displaced and 841 acres of forest cover will be destroyed, which also home for endangered species and catchment area of Bango dam, said Umeshwar Singh Armo, a tribal activist.
Meanwhile, records says, Hasdeo Aranya forests were ‘No-Go area’ in 2010. However, the declaration was revoked in the next few months and stage one mining clearance was given.
The latest biodiversity study Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), which formed the basis of the clearance given by the Union government contradicts itself on many places, Sudeep Shrivastava, an apex court lawyer said.
ICFRE report states that 14 out of the 23 proposed coal blocks in the region cannot be given clearance owing to dense forest area. But mining can take place with environmental safeguards and conservation methods in – Kente, Parsa East, Kanta Besan and the Tara block.
A letter written by MLA Dharamjeet Singh to CM Baghel advocates that area is virgin forest area, rich in biodiversity, if it is disturbed than it has catastrophic impact on whole area cannot be restored.
On the verge of anonymity one senior ranking forest officer said, India’s energy demand is pegging up, if we are left with enough coal, a means of cheap energy source why should not it be used.