India: massive coal mining expansion in tribal forests green-lighted

April 14, 2022

Adivasi men look out on the vast PEKB coal mine that’s destroyed much of their ancestral land. Hasdeo Forest, Chhattisgarh. © Vijay Ramamurthy

Authorities in India have approved two huge new coal projects on Adivasi (Indigenous) land, defying a vociferous Adivasi resistance movement.

The unique Hasdeo Forest in Chhattisgarh, home to 20,000 Adivasi people, is being targeted for a massive increase in coal mining:

• Approval has been given for the vast Parsa mine, located in forests that are home to thousands of Gond and Oraon Adivasi, and Dalit, people. Besides the destruction of people’s lands and livelihoods, 200,000 trees will be felled.

• The existing PEKB mine, which has already destroyed lands vital to thousands of Adivasi people living in Hasdeo, will be expanded.

Adivasi women of Hasdeo Forest march as part of the community’s protest against coal mining. © Survival

Large numbers of Adivasi people are staging an indefinite protest in Hasdeo. Muneshwar Porte, an Adivasi man from Fatehpur village, which is now scheduled to be destroyed, said: “We are facing a critical situation now and so we are doing an indefinite protest. If our lands are taken away, our future generations will lose their identity and our existence will be lost forever.”

Both projects will be operated by Adani, the notorious company that operates the existing PEKB coal mine in Hasdeo.

The Parsa mine will produce 5 million tonnes of coal a year over 45 years to provide power for the state of Rajasthan – despite Rajasthan having enormous solar energy potential.

Dr. Jo Woodman of Survival International said: “The Adivasi people of Hasdeo have spent a decade knocking with all their might on every door to protect their sacred and vital forest, including marching 300km to meet the Chief Minister. But the government has chosen to prioritise coal mining above the rights of Indigenous people and India’s Constitution and laws.

“It’s also catastrophic for the fight against climate change. The Adivasis, the true owners of Hasdeo Forest, are stepping up their brave resistance to mining that they have not consented to. Standing with them as they defend the Forest and strive to keep the coal in the ground should be a global priority.”

Note to Editors

Under Indian law mines on Adivasi land should not go ahead without the people’s consent. Claims that communities have consented to the Parsa mine have been fiercely contested by the people themselves, who have labelled them “fake.” Chhattisgarh’s Governor promised to launch an inquiry into how the “consents” were obtained, but the government has now approved the mining project anyway.