Skip to main content

Adani coalmining project to decimate forests, villages, farmlands, 'disturb' elephant routes

Counterview Desk 

India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), expressing support to struggling villagers, has demanded withdrawal of the proposed coal mining project by the Adanis at Gondalpura, Jharkhand, in order to "protect their farms, forests and biodiversity".
In a statement, NAPM said, "The coal mine is likely to obliterate over 500 hectares of farms, dwellings and forests, generating over 229 million tonnes of solid waste. At least five villages including Gondalpura, Phulang, Hahe, Balodar and Gali would be affected adversely by the project."

Text:

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) extends solidarity to the villagers protesting since many months against Adani’s proposed mine at the Gondalpura coal block in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. It is distressing that both the Centre and the State have paid no heed to the grave concerns raised by the moolvasi and adivasi villagers (including SCs, STs and OBCs) who are keen to safeguard their lands, river and forest resources from ‘developmental’ destruction.
The Gondalpura coal block, with an estimated 176 million tonnes of coal reserves was auctioned off to the Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) in November, 2020, as part of the e-auction for 41 coal blocks, for commercial mining, initiated by the Prime Minister. While the financial cost of this project is estimated to be close to Rs 1 lakh crore, there seems to be little concern for the severe and long-term social and environmental costs.
As per available records, the coal mine is likely to obliterate over 500 hectares of farms, dwellings and forests, generating over 229 million tonnes of solid waste. At least five villages including Gondalpura, Phulang, Hahe, Balodar and Gali would be affected adversely by the project. Coal mining activities in the district have already impacted the nearby villages, and hence there is intense resentment to the current project from the people, based on past experience.
While attempts were made to seek clearances and initiate project work in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic, surveyors sent by the district administration, NABARD and few Adani’s officials were not entertained and reportedly chased off by the villagers on a couple of occasions, in the later half of 2021. The villagers of Gali and their Village Forest Conservation Committee also formally objected to proposals of the government seeking ‘Gram Sabha consent’ for the project related surveys, in Dec 2021.
Notably, the villagers have been up in arms against previous attempts of the government as well (since 2006) to open up the area for coal mining. The coal block was then allocated to the Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited (TVNL). Villagers fiercely opposed the ‘public hearing’ in 2012, conducted amidst heavy police presence. All this indicates their staunch and consistent refusal to allow mining operations on their lands.
The area under question includes 513.18 hectares of land, of which 219.65 hectares is forest land. The farm land is fertile, which makes agriculture an important source of sustenance for the villagers. Crops like rice, sugarcane, wheat and mustard are part of the cultivation here. A sizable chunk of land is also community land used for grazing, gathering firewood etc.
The area is also rich in biodiversity and serves as a wildlife habitat. Villagers state that the project authority is not presenting an accurate picture of the diverse range of flora and fauna in the forest and is showing the areas as sparsely forested and inhabited by only few wild animals, on the project-related documents.
If the coal project moves ahead despite the villagers’ resistance, it will decimate villages, farmlands and forests. Villagers are also worried that the already affected elephant routes will be further disturbed by the coal mining activity, resulting in crop loss and danger to human habitation. They also feel such extensive coal mining would have severe climatic impacts over time, including erratic crop cycles and unseasonal rains etc.
Concerns have also been expressed regarding the pollution that would be caused to the Badmahi river, an important lifeline of the region. Environmental experts fear that the actual waste generated due to mining, could be much higher than indicated by project proponents and this would imply an additional land destruction of 103.26 hectares, over and above land used for the actual mining.
Gondalpura coal block, which is part of the North Karanpura mining block, was scheduled in MoEF’s ‘No-Go Zone (Category-A areas) indicating that any mining activity here would have serious adverse impact on forests and wildlife and even with afforestation and reclamation, it would not be possible to restore the region’s biodiversity.
Questions have also been raised about the circumstances in which the coal block was auctioned to AEL and the approach of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of MoEF in diluting its own previous requirements and overlooking its past minutes, especially on the pollution and depletion of the Badmahi river and the forest biodiversity.
In the above context, we extend our full solidarity to the villagers of Gondalpura, Phulang, Hahe, Balodar and Gali, fighting the state and mega corporations like Adani, to protect their lands, forests and livelihoods.
We demand that:
  • The Government of India must immediately revoke the decision to permit coal mining by Adani Enterprises Limited at the Gondalpura coal block.
  • No process/ survey work/ land acquisition must be undertaken in violation of the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Environment Protection Act, 1986, Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, PESA Act, 1996 and the judgements of the Supreme Court on mining and rights of Gram Sabha.
  • As per its commitments in global fora, India must proactively de-prioritize coal-based mining and shift towards environmentally sustainable, non-displacing modes of renewable energy generation.

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen