Days after Jharkhand government moved the Supreme court, the Chhattisgarh government has raised a red flag to the Centre’s move to make five out of the nine coal blocks in the state available for auction.
The state environment minister has written to Prakash Javadekar, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, that the jungles around the coal blocks have been reserved for the Lemru elephant reserve and hence, the coal blocks should be taken off the auction list.
The five coal blocks are located in the Hasdeo Aranya forests and nearby catchment areas of river Mand. The area, rich in biodiversity, was earlier identified as a No-Go area, to preserve the endemic flora and fauna.
State environment minister Mohammad Akbar has written that 1,995 square km in Hasdeo Aranya is reserved for Lemru elephant reserve, pending notification. “The state has recently seen an increase in the number of elephants along with an increase in the human animal conflict. For the co-existence of both humans and elephants, the reserve was planned and work is going on,” he has stated.
“It will not be right to ever create coal blocks in these areas, with regards to environmental safety. So, kindly remove the coal blocks falling in Hasdeo Aranya and the catchment areas of Mand river should be removed from the current and any future list of available coal blocks,” Akbar wrote.
Earlier this week, nine village heads wrote to the Prime Minister, seeking removal of the five coal blocks from the auction list. The sarpanchs requested that the jungles around their villages be left untouched as the villagers were already “atmnirbhar”. “We are a group of 20 gram panchayats. All of us have time and again through gram sabha and other means have protested against the coal mining and for protection of the forests,” the letter read.
Environmental activist Alok Shukla said, “We welcome this letter from the Congress government. The central government has clearly put the profit from the coal auction over the environmental and social costs of the same.”
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