Last update:
2016-12-21

Iron ore mining in Saranda forest, JH, India

Iron ore mining causes devastation of pristine Saranda forests which are home to over 36,000 adivasis (tribals), dense sal forests. The forests also house a large number of flora and fauna, and serve as an important elephant corridor.


Description:

The Saranda forests in the hilly regions of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand are dense forests that stretch over an area of 82,000 ha. These forests were one of the most pristine in India, and are the largest sal forests in the country (Priyadarshini, 2008; Sethi, 2014). They support a large variety of floral and faunal biodiversity, and are an important elephant corridor (Priyadarshini, 2008). An expert panel appointed by the Government of India in 2011, identified 480 new species of fauna and flora in the region (Chakravartty, 2014). The core area of these forests are also ancestral home to the about 56 villages (Deogharial, 2013) which are mostly composed of the Ho and Mundi adivasi (tribal) communities. The 36,000 strong tribal communities have lived sustainably within the forests for centuries and have played a key role in the maintenance and protection of the forests (Bera, 2012). The ecology of the forests is closely intertwined with the spiritual and cultural practices of the tribe (Lambert, 2016). The cultural integration and the importance of the forests to the tribal communities extends from birth to death—the Ho community custom dictates burials be conducted under the shade of trees within the Saranda forests. The impact that the loss of forest has on adivasis can be gauged by the statement of a part time labourer captured by Bera, 2012: “I just hope they leave some forests for our graves” (Bera, 2012).   The hills also hold large deposits of high grade iron ore. Until 2016, close to 1,200 ha of land within the Saranda forests have been granted for iron ore mining to 85 companies (Lambert, 2016). As a result of mining operations large stretches of forest land which served as an elephant corridor, agricultural land belonging to and sustaining livelihoods of villagers lies waste. Streams which serve both domestic and agricultural purposes of the villagers now flow red with mining waste, polluting drinking water sources and resulting in loss of agricultural productivity (Priyadarshini, 2008). Forests, and mountains which are sacred to the adivasis lie degraded due to iron ore mining operations.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Iron ore mining in Saranda forest, JH, India
Country:India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:West Singhbhum
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Deforestation
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Until 2016, close to 1,200 ha of land within the Saranda forests have been granted for iron ore mining to 85 companies (Lambert, 2016). As a result of mining operations large stretches of forest land which served as an elephant corridor, agricultural land belonging to and sustaining livelihoods of villagers lies waste.

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Project area:82,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:36,000
Start of the conflict:10/01/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) from India
Jindal Steel and Power Limited from India
Vedanta from United Kingdom
Rungta Group from India
Arcelor Mittal from Luxembourg
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Among other activists, the name of Gladstone Dungdung is internationally known.
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), 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
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Migration/displacement
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Mining operations, and forest degradation in the region is continuing.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Dungdung, G., 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway.
[click to view]

Dungdung, G., 2015. Mission Saranda: A war for natural resources in India.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Bera, S., Down to Earth, 30th April 2012, ‘Between Maoists and Mines’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Sethi, N., Livemint, 25th January 2014, ‘Firms allowed mining rights in Saranda forests to face scrutiny’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Dungdung, G., OpenSpace, ‘Who am I? Gladstone Dungdung’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Lambert, J., Intercontinental Cry, 17th May 2016, ‘Outcry as adivasi activist Gladson Dungdung is prevented from travelling to the UK’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Business Standard, Press Trust of India, Chaibasa, 1st July 2012, ‘Not in favour of handing over Saranda mines to pvt parties’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Priyadarshini, N., South Asian Citizens Web, 28th October 2008, ‘Impact of mining and industries in Jharkhand’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Ramanathan, S., Down to Earth, 2nd April 2014, ‘Saranda forest: New mining projects put on hold’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Shrivastava, K. S., Down to Earth, 17th May 2013, ‘Forest advisory council clears way for mining in Saranda’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Chakravartty, A., Down to Earth, 15th February 2014, ‘SAIL gets pristine forest to mine’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Ganguly, A., The Telegraph, 27th July 2015, ‘Book on Saranda’.
[click to view]

Deogharial, J., The Times of India, 8th June 2013, ‘Saranda mining approval contradicts Jairam Ramesh’s words’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Shrivastava, K. S., Down to Earth, 7th February 2013, ‘Forest panel clears Jindal’s mining projects in Saranda forest’. (last accessed 18th December 2016).
[click to view]

Other documents

Mining operation in the area Source: http://www.livemint.com/Industry/Lok5LTlEZSgP12OpQ7uPLI/Firms-allowed-mining-rights-in-Saranda-forests-to-face-scrut.html
[click to view]

Saranda Forest http://prernabindra.com/2013/02/16/mining-death-knell-for-saranda-the-worlds-finest-sal-forest/
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Arpita Bisht, TERI University, [email protected]
Last update21/12/2016
Comments
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