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Land acquisition for coalmining: Outdated law being used to 'bypass' consultation

Chhattisgarh Adivasis protest Govt of India move 
Counterview Desk 
The Union Ministry of Coal’s notification to acquire more than 700 hectares of forest and Adivasi land in the Hadeo Aranya region of Chhattisgarh for under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957, is a “blatant attempt to bypass public consultation provisions under multiple Central laws including, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a civil rights network, has said.
The laws which are being allegedly being violated to allow the proposed Madan;pur South coalmine in the Hadeo Aranya include Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, (PESA), 1996; Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006; Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013, NAPM said, even as extending solidarity with the protesting local communities.
Seeking withdrawal of the notification, NAPM insisted in a statement, the “government must respect constitutional powers of adivasi gram sabhas demanding withdrawal of the land acquisition notification and recognize their right over community forest resources.”

Text:

NAPM strongly condemns the recent attempt by the Union Ministry of Coal to acquire land for the proposed Madanpur South coal mine in Hasdeo Aranya region of Korba, Chhattisgarh without the consultation and consent of affected Gond Adivasi and other local communities.
On December 24, 2020, the Coal Ministry issued a notification to acquire 712.072 hectares of forest and Adivasi land affected by the project under the provisions of the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957, of which 648.601 hectares is forest land and 63.471 is non-forest and private land.
Most of this land lies in the dense and biodiversity-rich Hasdeo Aranya forest region which will be decimated by multiple coal mining projects being proposed in this area. The forest areas earmarked for diversion by this project also overlap with land for elephant reserve proposed by the Chhattisgarh state government.
The Madanpur South mine was allotted by the Central government to the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) in 2016, which chose Essel Mining & Industries Limited (part of the Aditya Birla Group) as the private Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) of the mine. The project is yet to acquire mandatory Environmental and Forest Clearances required prior to the start of land acquisition and mining.
Local, predominantly Gond Adivasi, and forest dependent communities of the Hasdeo Aranya region have been strongly opposed to the project. The proposed mine will displace an estimated 90 families in the two villages of Morga and Ketma. It will also completely destroy large areas of dense forests and water bodies that are central to the livelihood of hundreds of families in the region.
Multiple central government laws for land acquisition of Adivasi land and diversion of forest land require the prior consultation and consent of affected communities. These include the Forest Conservation Act, 1980; Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; Forest Rights Act, 2006; Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006; and Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
In contrast to these legislations, land notified under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act can be acquired without consultation of affected communities, who have only 30 days to submit their objections. The Coal Ministry’s recent attempt to use this outdated and draconian Act for land acquisition is a clear attempt to bypass vital provisions for public consultation and consent prior to land acquisition.
Demand for recognition of community forest resources rights under the Forest Rights Act, filed by 21 gram sabhas in the Hasdeo Arand region, remains pending
Adivasi and other local communities who will lose their land and forests due to the Madanpur South Mine have strongly rejected the government’s unjust and illegal efforts to acquire their land. On January 16, 10 gram sabhas from the Hasdeo Aranya region formally registered their opposition to this project and the absence of public consultation processes with the Union Coal Ministry and Government of Chhattisgarh. Ongoing protests in Morga, one of the villages facing displacement due to the mine, have also seen strong participation from other villages in the region.
These have included a public gathering under the banner of the Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti on February 11, which involved hundreds of villagers affected by three other proposed coal mines in Hasdeo Aranya -- Parsa, Paturia and Gidhmuri. 
Moreover, the demand for recognition of community forest resources rights under the Forest Rights Act, filed by 21 gram sabhas in the Hasdeo Arand region, remains pending. Under this Act’s provisions, diversion of forest land can only be undertaken after the formal settlement of such claims to community forest resources.
NAPM stands in solidarity with Gond Adivasi and local communities opposing the Madanpur South coal mine and other proposed mines in the Hasdeo Aranya forest region. We fully support their legitimate demands for cancellation of these projects, which severely threaten their livelihoods, environment, health and way of life.
The Union Ministry of Coal must immediately withdraw its unfair and illegal notification to acquire land using provisions of the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act. The use of outdated laws to bypass established processes for public consultation and consent of local communities is condemnable.
  • We demand that claims filed by affected gram sabhas for community forest resources under the Forest Rights Act be recognised on an urgent basis.
  • Union Government must reinstate previous recognition of Hasdeo Aranya and other highly biodiverse forest regions as ‘no-go’ areas for coal mining projects.
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Click here for signatories

Comments

Anonymous said…
If the person bidding for mining rights is a crony politician - the process of overturning law and governments becomes very easy

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