Skip to main content

Paris talks? India to double coal production by 2019, as affected communities’ rights put on back foot: Report

Counterview Desk
An international advocacy group report, prepared even as the Paris talks on climate change are on, has accused India that Government of India and India’s coal companies operating in the private sector of causing “major, countervailing detrimental effects on communities which had previously sustained themselves with farming, fishing, hunting and other activities.”
The report states, this is happening not just in around the coalmines, which are spread across fifteen states, with Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand being the top coal producers, but also states like Gujarat, which has been a major player in private sector coal-based power plants.
Already, the report says, India the "third-largest consumer of coal in the world, generating approximately 80% of its electricity from coal", adding, "It is also the third-largest producer with a production of 613 MT of coal in 2013, and the third largest importer, as despite its vast reserves, it needs to compensate for the poor quality of its domestic coal."
Underlining that "the high ash content of India’s coal pollutes twice as much as the coal it imports", the report predicts doubling of use of domestic coal by 2019. It says, this would be possible thanks to India shedding its 40 year state monopoly over coal mining in India, with the game changers being two laws, the Coal Mines Special Provisions Bill, and the Mines & Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill, "allowing private companies to mine and sell coal in India.”
“These laws also made way for foreign investment in India’s coal sector”, the report, titled “Digging Deeper: The Human Rights Impacts of Coal in the Global South”, a report by the Dejusticia, Colombia, and Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, London, notes.
Identifying several companies – an RP Goenka Group conglomerate in Jharkhand, Welspun Energy in Uttar Pradesh, Adani Power in Karnataka, Reliance in Madhya Pradesh, and Tata Mundra plant in Gujarat, the report states, they present a “gloomy picture of land acquisition without protection of affected people’s rights”.
Claiming that “pollution from coal power plants is causing 80-120,000 premature deaths per year, and as many as 20 million new asthma cases”, the report quotes a Greenpeace India report which says that “coal-fired energy production, as currently conducted in India, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives lost.”
Referring to how those operating these mines have found “the perfect workers: children”, the report states, “Employment in the mines represents one of the worst forms of child labour.” It quotes a study to say that an “estimated 70,000 children work in these mines, most of whom were illegally trafficked from the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Nepal.”
Referring to Tata Mundra Plant in Gujarat, the report says, “The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which financed the project, touted it for its support to local communities. However, its effects on the Wagher fishing community, a Muslim minority identified as ‘a socially and educationally backward caste’, contradict these claims.”
“The operations of the power plant devastated the community’s livelihood, having salinized fertile land and ground water, and caused both decline in the local fish population, and lasting health effects on the community. With the destruction of their fishing livelihood, the community, with the support of local NGOs, filed lawsuits against the company”, the report says.
The report says, “India faces contradictions between the drive to develop and industrialize, and the need to address the severe negative impacts of coal energy. In making major decisions on these questions, vulnerable populations’ rights must be put back at the forefront.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.