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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
Name of conflict:Iron ore mining in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India
State or province:Chhattisgarh
Location of conflict:Dantewada
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Expansion of existing iron ore mining operations from 3.2-4.2 MT pa to 10 MT pa by the NMDC.

Project area:317
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,000
Start of the conflict:19/05/2008
Company names or state enterprises:National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) from India
Relevant government actors:Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh
District Collector
Prime Minister of IndiaCRPF (Central Reserve Police Force)
CISF (Central Industrial Security Force)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Badidila Khadan Prabhavit Jan Sangharsh Samiti
Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Armed groups
Forms of mobilization:Official 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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials

Foil Vedanta. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

Oneindia, 19th May 2008, ‘Bastar tribals stage padyatra to protest iron ore mining’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

Kaushal, P., Tehelka, 7th June 2014, ‘Dantewada tribals say no to polluting mine’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

The Hindu, 7th July 2014, ‘’Red water’ muddies life for Dantewada villagers’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

DNA, 8th July 2011, ‘Maoists’ shutdown hits NDMC Iron ore transportation’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

The Indian Express, Raipur, 25th October 2014, ‘In Dantewada, Center opens up another hill for iron ore mining’.
[click to view]

International Business Times, 4th May 2016, ‘Blast at iron ore mines in Dantewada; police suspect naxals’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[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]

4. DNA, 9th May 2015, ‘Chhattisgarh: PM Narendra Modi visits Naxal hit Dantewada; addressed students at Education City’.
[click to view]

SiliconIndia, 3rd January 2011, ‘Life in Chhattisgarh hit as Maoists protest’. (last accessed 17th December 2016).
[click to view]

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).
[click to view]

Thaindian News, 28th August 2009, ‘Maoists threaten iron ore mining in Bastar’. (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).
[click to view]

Sakal Times, Raipur, 7th July 2010, ‘Maoist strife hits life, iron ore shipment in Chhattisgarh’. (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).
[click to view]

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]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Arundhati Roy on Dantewada Naxal attack
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Arpita Bisht, TERI University, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2523
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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