'Be United, Save Your Land': Chhattisgarh Min Singhdeo to Hasdeo Mine Protesters

Singhdeo's message to tribals has again brought out the rifts within Congress, say many

2 min read

"Protest alone still has the risk of you losing your lands. Get united, stand united, and if anyone comes with a gun I will take the first bullet," said TS Singhdeo, Health Minister of Chhattisgarh while addressing protesters opposing coal mines in the state's Hasdeo Aranya forests.

Singhdeo met with the Chhattisgarh's coal mine protesters on Monday, 6 June, and asked them to stand united for their cause. He also assured them his support.

“Recently senior party leaders from Gujarat met with me and told me that Rahul Gandhi had promised that if villagers won’t consent there will be no mining, but why are mines being opened now? Whatever is happening in Chhattisgarh has an impact in Gujarat and if we want to fight in Gujarat, we must know of the tribal movement's effect there. You must get united and stand united to save your lands."
TS Singhdeo

Singhdeo’s comments have spurred a new row of the rift within Congress and the party’s contradicting stands on tribal rights and coal mining in the state.

CM Baghel Had Earlier Asked Those Opposing Mining to ‘Switch Off Lights’

On Saturday, 4 June, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had slammed the critics of mining and said those opposing mining should ‘switch off lights’ of their houses first.

Condemning Baghel’s remarks, Alok Shukla, convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Aandolan (a tribal rights group) while talking to The Quint, said that it is ‘unfortunate that the CM is trying to demean the decade-long struggle of Hasdeo.’
“Congress party itself declared that they stand by this resistance of Gram sabha of Hasdeo against coal mining, gave statements and the CM himself alleged the MDO model as the biggest coal scam in the country. Now when the party is in power, they have changed sides and approved the destruction of Hasdeo forest for corporate interests. Labelling a community movement to save ‘Jal Jungle Jameen’ as politics is awful. We are proud of doing such 'politics' which is all about the protection of constitutional and democratic rights."
Alok Shukla, CBA

Despite Protest Baghel Govt Approved 2 More Coal Mines

Amid the decade-long protest against coal mining by residents of Chhattisgarh's Hasdeo Aranya area, Bhupesh Baghel-led Chhattisgarh government issued final approval earlier this year for Parsa East and Kente Basan phase 2 mining and Parsa coal mines on 25 March and 6 April, respectively.

Both mines are situated in Hasdeo Aranya and are allocated to Rajasthan's Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) which has entered into a mine developer and operator contract (MDO) with Adani Enterprises Limited.

Hasdeo is claimed to be central India's largest unfragmented forest patch and a migratory corridor of elephants. Earlier, a biodiversity report prepared jointly by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and Wildlife institute of India (WII) had recommended to not allow opening of any more mines in Hasdeo.

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