Massive tree felling underway in the pristine forests of Hasdeo for a Adani Coal mine as On the 26th of September 2022, the Chhattisgarh forest department gave the clearance to cut trees for the second phase of mine. Meanwhile, activists claimed that the trees were being chopped despite the Ghatbarra gram sabha passing a resolution against mining in June 2022.
The proposed mining project sits in the Hasdeo forest. The proposal suggests the felling of more than 3 lakh trees. Hasdeo is one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in the country. The felling will not only lead to habitat loss, but also massive displacement of Adivasi people. 1,136.328 hectares of land has been granted for the project.
“Trees are being chopped at a breakneck speed in Hasdeo for PEKB phase ll coal mines. Heavy police forces have deployed in the site and the demarcated forest is completely cordoned off. No one is allowed to enter the forest area. The sarpanch of Ghatbarra and Paturiya Dand villages were taken in custody along with some other protestors. The villagers demanded cancellation of coal blocks through a written order,”said Bipashu Paul, an activist working in Hasdeo Arand Area.
The state government granted permission for non-forestry use of 841.538 hectares of forest land for the Parsa mine (Surguja and Surajpur districts) and 1,136.328 hectares for PEKKB phase-II mine (Surguja), allotted to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL), after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot met chief minister Bhupesh Baghel in March this year to seek development of the coal blocks allotted to the former’s state.
Butchering of a huge old growth forest for a COAL Mine amid climate crisis is concerning and raises eyebrows. Every other Indian region has witnessed climate related extreme weather like massive rainfalls & floods or heatwaves in the summer. In the neighbouring country Pakistan the flood waters haven’t drained yet, as dead bodies are rotting in the flood waters, waterborne diseases are killing people.
With the climate crisis blooming over us it is imperative that preservation of the biodiversity that is intact becomes essential. According to officials, the first phase of mining in 762 hectares of land in PEKB block was allotted to RVUNL in 2007. Mining started in 2013 and has been completed.
Villagers under the banner of Hasdeo Arand Bachao Sangharsh Samiti have been protesting the allotment of these mines for the last several months. The forest department in May this year launched a tree cutting exercise to pave the way for the start of the PEKB phase II coal mine, triggering strong opposition from local villagers who forced the authorities to halt their action. Subsequently, the state government in June had halted the proceedings over these three proposed coal mine projects.