Iron ore mining in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India

Dantewada, one of the most iron ore rich districts in India faces the 'resource curse'. Indigenous adivasi communities are forced to live amidst violence, harrassment, and intimidation by police, heavy militarization, and Naxalite presence.


The Bailadila Hills of Dantewada district in southern Chhattisgarh are one of the largest deposits with the best quality of iron ore in the country. The NMDC began mining operations in the regions in the 1960s, and currently has operates over 14 deposits in the area (Kunjam, 2016). The presence of mines have coincided with militarization in the region, harassment of villagers, spread of Naxal influence (Thaindian New, 2009; The Pioneer, 2012), and gross violations of the constitutional rights granted to the adivasi (tribal) communities granted under FRA (Forest Rights Act (2006)) and PESA (Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act) (Nithin, 2006; Kaushal, 2014; Bhattacharya, 2016). This implies that the first rights to the land belongs to the local tribal communities, and any expansion of mining operations or opening a new mine requires permission of the local communities. However, the public notice for conducting the public hearing which is constitutional right of the predominantly tribal community in the region was not provided.

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Basic Data
NameIron ore mining in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific CommoditiesIron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsExpansion of existing iron ore mining operations from 3.2-4.2 MT pa to 10 MT pa by the NMDC.
Project Area (in hectares)317
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population5,000
Start Date19/05/2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesNational Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) from India
Relevant government actorsChief Minister of Chhattisgarh

District Collector

Prime Minister of IndiaCRPF (Central Reserve Police Force)

CISF (Central Industrial Security Force)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBadidila Khadan Prabhavit Jan Sangharsh Samiti

Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Armed groups
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite protest, and despite of constitutional legislation requiring consent of indigenous people for any expansion of mining operations and forest clearance, NDMC has expanded operations. The conflict is ongoing and the harrassment, intimidation and arrest of local people by police and paramilitary is an ongoing reality for the people of Dantewada. The vicious cycle of increasing Naxalite presence and militarization negatively impacts the daily lives of people on a daily basis.
Sources and Materials

Foil Vedanta. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Kaushal, P., Tehelka, 7th June 2014, ‘Dantewada tribals say no to polluting mine’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Oneindia, 19th May 2008, ‘Bastar tribals stage padyatra to protest iron ore mining’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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The Hindu, 7th July 2014, ‘’Red water’ muddies life for Dantewada villagers’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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4. DNA, 9th May 2015, ‘Chhattisgarh: PM Narendra Modi visits Naxal hit Dantewada; addressed students at Education City’.
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DNA, 8th July 2011, ‘Maoists’ shutdown hits NDMC Iron ore transportation’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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International Business Times, 4th May 2016, ‘Blast at iron ore mines in Dantewada; police suspect naxals’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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The Indian Express, Raipur, 25th October 2014, ‘In Dantewada, Center opens up another hill for iron ore mining’.
[click to view]

The Pioneer, Dantewada, 5th November 2012, ‘India: Maoists attack Iron ore mine’s pluner and paramilitary’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

Bharadwaj, S., Sabrang, 7th December 2015, ‘Has India betrayed its indigenous peoples, the Adivasis?’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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SiliconIndia, 3rd January 2011, ‘Life in Chhattisgarh hit as Maoists protest’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Kunjam, M., Adivasi Resurgence, 18th November 2016, ‘Villagers in Dantewada protest against NDMC’s unconstitutional public hearing’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

The Times of India, 19th January 2012, ‘Anti-railway Bastar protests halt iron ore shipments’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Thaindian News, 28th August 2009, ‘Maoists threaten iron ore mining in Bastar’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Nitin, People’s March, 1st January 2006, ‘”The forest is ours”—assert the indigenous Adivasi inhabitants of Dandakaranya and the vast hinterland of India’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

Bhattacharya, A., The Caravan, 22nd August 2016, ‘There is no war is Bastar, only battles’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
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Sakal Times, Raipur, 7th July 2010, ‘Maoist strife hits life, iron ore shipment in Chhattisgarh’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

Media Links

Arundhati Roy on Dantewada Naxal attack
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Other Documents

Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh, India
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Policemen patrolling Dantewada area Source:
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Meta Information
ContributorArpita Bisht, TERI University, [email protected]
Last update01/01/2017