आदिवासी औद्योगिकीकरण जल जंगल ज़मीन प्राकृतिक संसाधन मानव अधिकार

Sign here: Chhattisgarh villagers see sly move to acquire forest land for coal mining project

Sign here: Chhattisgarh villagers see sly move to
acquire forest land for coal mining project

By Ejaz Kaiser  |  Express
News Service  |   | 
Tribal persons, farmers, women took out a protest rally
against holding of “Gram Sabha” seeking “consent” for diverting their land for
coal mine activities in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. |
RAIPUR: Tribal people, farmers and
women from 15 villages of Chhattisgarh HmarchedFriday opposing a government
order that coerces them into giving consent to coal mining in forest land in
Tamnar block of Raigarh district.
The official circular directs these
15 village panchayats to hold gram sabhas and get villagers to sign on the
dotted line. That will allow the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company
(Mahagenco) to set up the Gare Palma sector-2 coal mine in forest land in
The circular was issued by the
sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Tamnar.
While the gram sabha is a mandatory
condition to secure the consent of villagers, the people say it virtually asks
them to write away their claims and entitlements to individual and community
rights vested in them by the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
They alleged that there is pressure
from the administration to leave their habitats to make room for Mahagenco.
The sarpanch of Kunjemura village,
Umesh Singh Kedar told New Indian Express that the official
notification has an attached printed proforma that has to be signed by the
villagers. It speaks only of giving consent and does not spell out the terms.
“It is misleading,” said Kedar.
The form, accessed by New Indian Express,
requires the gram panchayat to ccertify that no tribals live on the land in
question. “In the proposed forest land to be diverted, no tribal and
non-traditional forest dwellers are living, (or are) engaged in agriculture or
other traditional activities. There is no entitlement of any individual or
community rights distributed under the FRA in the given area.” Or else, the
panchayat is told to “Submit the names of those who have acquired land deeds
under the FRA.”
Activist Rinchin, who is fighting for
the villagers’ rights in Raigarh, said the administration is being
“deliberately ambiguous”. “The format demands for consent without giving any
scope for dissent or objection,” she said. 
However sub-divisional magistrate S
Jayvardhan said the administration has not interfered with the rights of the
gram sabha. “I believe there is some miscommunication. Yes, we have asked them
to convene gram sabhas but didn’t issue any directive to pursue a particular
line of action. They are free to take a decision,” he said.    
The villagers are nevertheless
unconvinced. “We have asserted our rights under the FRA, Panchayats (extension
to Scheduled Areas (PESA) and submitted our memorandum to the Ministry of Coal,
the governor, the chief minister and the collector. We have registered our
protest against the proposed project as the region is already bearing the brunt
of other ongoing coal mining activities,” said Shivpal Bhagat, the sarpanch of
Kodampalli panchayat.


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