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Coal mining protest in Hasdeo Aranya

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    6th Aug, 2022


Over the past one year, protests against mining in this region have erupted several times and some still continue to sit-in demanding a complete stop to mining. 

The update

  • The Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a private member resolution urging the Centre to cancel allocation of all coal mining blocks in the ecologically sensitive area.

Private Member Resolution

  • An MLA who is not a Minister — whether she happens to be from the ruling party or not — is a private member.
  • A private member resolution can be brought in by a private member and if passed, it becomes an expression of what the House thinks.
  • This is different from a private member bill which would become law in case of approval.

When did the controversy surrounding coal mining start?

  • Underneath the Hasdeo Aranya is a coalfield that comprises 22 coal blocks. 
    • At present, of the 22 blocks, seven blocks have been allotted to different companies.
  • In 2010, the Centre categorised Hasdeo Aranya to be a “no-go” zone for mining. 
    • It ruled out mining in any of these blocks.
  • However, only a year later, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) granted clearance for the mining for one coal block.

The Hasdeo forest

  • The Hasdeo Aranya forests are called the lungs of Chhattisgarh.
  • The Hasdeo forest covering Chhattisgarh’s Korba, Sarguja and Surajpur districts, spans an area of 170,000 hectares. 
  • It is a noted migratory corridor and has a significant presence of elephants.
  • It is also the catchment area of the Hasdeo river, the largest tributary of the Mahanadi river which originates in Chhattisgarh and flows through Odisha into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The area was declared as a ‘No-Go Zone’ for mining by the Centre in 2009. 
    • Despite this, mining in the region continued as the policy for the ‘No-Go Zone’ was not finalised.
  • The Hasdeo forests are also the catchment area for the Hasdeo Bango Dam built across the Hasdeo river which irrigates six lakh acres of land, crucial to a State with paddy as its main crop.

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