Baghel Govt Puts 3 Mining Projects in Hasdeo on Hold; Activists Say 'Not Enough'

Amidst tribal protest in Chhattisgarh, government puts mining activities on hold, activists say insufficient.

3 min read
Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

All departmental and official works related to the three coal mines in Chhattisgarh's Hasdeo Aranya area have been 'put on hold’ indefinitely, Surguja district collector Sanjeev Jha said on Thursday, 9 June.

The oral order will impact three mines – Parsa open cast coal mine, Parsa East Kente Basan, and Kente extension – which have been allotted to the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Nigam Limited.

The decision came just days after Chhattisgarh's top Congress leader and state Health Minister T S Singhdeo met with those opposing coal mining and told them:

'Stand united and you can save your land and if anyone comes with a gun I will take the first bullet."

Following this statement, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel gave an assurance that if Singhdeo doesn't consent, let alone a tree, not even a branch will be cut in Hasdeo.

However, activists fighting for tribal rights in Chhattisgarh say that the chief minister's assurances and the announcement to put the work 'on hold' is not enough.


Activists: 'On Hold' Not Enough, Cancel the Coal Blocks

Many believe that the Bhupesh government in Chhattisgarh is in the process of shelving the coal mining projects as the Congress stares at elections in Gujarat and later on in Chhattisgarh.

Bhupesh Baghel, who advised those protesting the coal mining to switch off their lights before protesting, sided with Singhdeo after the latter met with the protesters and lent his support.

However, activists are not satisfied with the change of stance and say that putting a hold on mining activities is not enough.

Bipasha Paul, a member of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (CBA), a tribal rights group working in Hasdeo, said that government decision is more of a tone-down step and is not enough.

People affected by both Parsa and PEKB phase ll mine are continuously protesting against the final approval granted by the state government. Gram sabha and people themselves, today being the 100th day of indefinite protest in Hariharpur, have witnessed how their constitutional rights are trampled for granting clearances to these coal blocks. Such clearances should be cancelled altogether to uphold the constitutional safeguards and rights given to the fifth scheduled areas. This the only way state government can do justice to this decade long struggle to save jal, jangal, jameen.

Bilaspur-based lawyer and environmentalist Sudiep Shrivastava, who has been representing the tribals of Hasdeo, says that the step is welcome but insufficient.

State government has been able to release the tension that was building up for the last 2-3 months, but this is not enough. The people across Chhattisgarh are angry over the coal mining and the political fallout is what pushed them to put the mining on hold. But for this 'on hold' statement to do some real good, it should be followed up by cancelling of approvals and then suggesting Rajasthan to apply for alternate coal blocks in some other state like Madhya Pradesh.

Alok Shukla, convener of CBA reasserting their demands of cancellation of coal mining approvals, said:

We got the information through the media that the mining activities for three coal blocks have been put on hold but this alone won't suffice. We would like to re-emphasise our demand that the government should cancell all coal permits based on the opposition by the gram panchayats. The villagers are exercising their constitutional rights and the protest will continue untill coal mining is cancelled completely in the area.

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad
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