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Direct violation of Forest Rights Act in the mining belt of Surguja district, Chhattisgarh, India

This is the first case where rights granted to forest lands under the FRA 2006 to the indigenous people were taken away by the government officials to promote coal mining in Chhattisgarh.


   The Scheduled tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, which is commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA), provides indigenous communities, through individual as well as community rights, the opportunities to claim legal ownership over the forests that they have lived on and conserved for hundreds of years. There have been many delays and misconducts in the granting of these forest rights to the indigenous people of India, due to the profit making at the extractive commodity frontiers.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Direct violation of Forest Rights Act in the mining belt of Surguja district, Chhattisgarh, India
State or province:Chhattisgarh
Location of conflict:Surguja district
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The PEKB coal block is a part of the Hasdeo-Arand coal field. This coalfield is spread over an area of 1,878 sq kms in Korba, Surguja and Surajpur districts in north Chhattisgarh. Of the total area, 1,502 sq km area is under biodiversity-rich forest cover. The coalfield has total estimated reserves of 5, 529 million tonne (1). Out of this, PEKB has a reserve of 450 million tonnes of coal. This was alloted to RVUNL with Adani as the mine developer in 2007 for developing captive opencast mine for power generation linked with two power plants in Rajasthan, namely Chhabra Phase II TPP (2x250 MW) and Kalisindh TPP (2x600MW).

Project area:187,800
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1200-1500
Start of the conflict:01/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) from India - Coal block allocated
Adani Mining Pvt Ltd from India
Relevant government actors:Forest Department, Chhattisgarh
Department of Tribal Affairs, District Administration of Surguja
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (Save Chhattisgarh Movement), Jana-Abhivyakti (People's Voice), Janhit (People's Welfare), All India Forum of Forest Movements, Hasdeo Arand Bachao Sangharsh Samiti
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Global warming, Soil contamination, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:The local people as well as the ejos want a complete ban in coal mining in these biodiverse rich forest areas.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The mining clearances were given without following the correct procedure of consultation with the gram sabhas of the affected villages in 2012. And in 2016, forest rights issued to the villagers were also cancelled illegally when villagers started protesting against the coal mining in the PEKB coal block.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

National Green Tribunal halted the mining project
[click to view]

Details of the National Green Tribunal order to stop the mining in PEKB coal block
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Ghosh, D. 2016. 'We don’t want to eat coal': Development and its Discontents in a Chhattisgarh district in India. Energy Policy
[click to view]

News about the Adani mining in Chhattisgarh in 2014.
[click to view]

Protest by villagers and indigenous people against coal mining in the forests of Chhattisgarh.
[click to view]

(1) Information about the Hasdeo Arand coal field.
[click to view]

Description of the cancellation of forest rights.
[click to view]

Details of the January 8, 2016 order of cancellation of forest rights.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Not Just A Coal Block | Jan. 2, 2015 | Chitrangada Choudhury, with photos from Hasdeo Arand Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a village-level organisation set up to protect the Hasdeo Arand forests, and lands and livelihoods of the area's communities.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Brototi Roy
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2552
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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