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Week after Chhattisgarh tribal stir, govt clears Parsa coal block

Parsa is one of the six coal blocks allocated in the region despite their agitation, according to Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a joint platform of protesters from Sarguja and Korba districts.

By: Express News Service | Raipur |
Updated: October 23, 2021 1:04:59 pm
The company had in 1999 submitted an application to the Ministry of Coal (MOC) for allocation of a captive coal block to run their paper mills located in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

A WEEK after Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel met tribals who had marched over 300 km to Raipur to protest against coal mining in Hasdeo Aranya, the Centre has given stage II clearance for mining in Parsa coal block in Chhattisgarh. Parsa is one of the six coal blocks allocated in the region despite their agitation, according to Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a joint platform of protesters from Sarguja and Korba districts.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change letter issued on Thursday said that the clearances were based on the state government’s recommendation. The protesters claim that when they met the CM, they were told that the Centre was pushing for coal mining in the region. “The state government has furnished compliance report in respect of the conditions stipulated in the in-principle approval and has requested the Central Government to grant final approval,” the letter stated.

According to Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, one of the groups fighting for the Hasdeo Aranya forest, this will lead to the destruction of at least 1 lakh trees in 841 hectare area.

One of the demands of the protesting tribals was to suspend the environment clearance of stage I provided in 2019. “We have been fighting against the fake gram sabhas that were allegedly conducted in 2017-2018 in Hariharpur village, Salhi village and Fatehpur village. We have sought an investigation on these from the district collector since 2018 and recently from the CM and the Governor,” Alok Shukla, convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, said recently.

According to Shukla, both the central and state governments are trying to aid the Adani group which is the Mines Developer and Operator for Parsa block. “The issues raised by the tribals have not even been acknowledged. We demand that this clearance be cancelled,” Shukla said.

An Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education report published last month also said that mining in the region would increase the human-elephant conflict while impacting the hydrology of the area and even Bango dam, state’s major water reservoir.

“Rahul Gandhi had promised us before elections that our area will be saved. However, after coming to power, the Congress seems to be helping Adani against the tribals,” one of tribal protesters said.

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