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Chhattisgarh HC asks state PSU to stop all mining activity, respect forest rights

The Chhattisgarh High Court has ordered the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) to stop all bauxite mining activity at the Pathrai village in Surguja district’s Sitapur block. The public sector undertaking (PSU) had started mining in the area where around 50 Individual Forest Rights titles had been granted to claimants. Another 50 claims under the Forest Rights Act (2006) are still pending.
The CMDC had received the go-ahead for Stage II Forest Clearance on June 19, 2018 based on the District Collector’s letter of August 27, 2015 which confirmed that no rights under the FRA were pending and no rights holders were straying into the mining area.
Tribals belonging to the Oraon and Manji tribal groups inhabit Pathrai, which falls under the Schedule V of the Indian Constitution. It is governed by the Panchayat (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act, 1996, under which no mining activity can take place without the consent of the Gram Sabha.
Advocate Kishore Narayan on behalf of the tribals said that CMDC had twisted its way around to begin  mining activity in the area. CMDC allegedly forged a No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the Gram Sabha. While CMDC told the gram sabha that its members would have to give their signatures to reject the mining plan, it was actually  an NoC document. The villagers approached the court after CMDC started mining activity.

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