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Rowghat Iron ore mines, CG, India

Suppression of an environmental justice movement by adivasis through police brutality, and militarization in Chhattisgarh in order to maintain supply of iron ore to the Bhilai Steel Plant.


The Rowghat mines, in Kanker district are the second largest deposit of iron ore in the state of Chhattisgarh with an estimated reserve of 731.93 MT. Of this, SAIL (Steel Authority of India Ltd.) has possession of the largest block—Deposit F. This contains an estimated 476.45 MT or iron ore, and is expected to supply ore to their major steel production unit—the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) for the next 20 years. Mining operations are essential to feed the BSP, located about 200 kms north of Kanker, which is running out of iron ore in its current mines. The deposit-F is spread out over an area of 2029ha along Rowghat hills. The Rowghat deposits were discovered in 1983, but received in principle environmental clearance from the Ministry of Forests and Environment only in 1996. After delays in environmental clearances by the ministry in 2000, BSP was asked to submit fresh clearances by the ministry in 2004, which were submitted in 2006. In 2007, after receiving the renewed proposal, the matter was forwarded to the empowered committee of the Supreme Court. In 2008, the Supreme Court of India gave the final consent for forest clearance for mining deposit-F spread to SAIL and BSP.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Rowghat Iron ore mines, CG, India
State or province:Chhattisgarh
Location of conflict:Kanker district
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project is expected to extract approximately 500 MT of iron ore in Rowghat hills. Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) has proposed to conduct mining operations at the rate of 14 MT per annum. The deposit in the Rowghat hills are expected to supply BSP for the next 20 years.

Project area:2,029
Level of Investment for the conflictive project600,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:28/10/2009
Company names or state enterprises: Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) from India
Relevant government actors:CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force)
Local Police
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Indian Railways
Sub-Divisional Magistrate
District Collector
Border Security Force (BSF)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Rowghat Bachao Jila Sangharsh Samiti
Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan:
Abhinav Gupta, Shalini Gera, Isha Khandelwal and Parijata Bharadwaj from the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:With the blasting of hills already conducted, and the iron ore mine already in operation large scale displacement of adivasis has already taken place. A large number of people are expected to be displaced outside of the actual mine, given the construction of a railway line for ore transport. This will lead to loss of physical, and cultural space for the communities. Additionally, the years of police brutality, intimidation through arrests and torture and the use of paramilitary force in the region has already caused much damage to the spirit of the local communities.
Sources & Materials

BusinessLine, Kolkata, 10th April 2011, ‘Bhilai Steel identifies iron ore deposits in Chhattisgarh mines’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Business Standard, Kolkata/Raipur, 28th October 2009,‘Bhilai Steel gets Rowghat mining lease’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Business Standard, Raipur, 28th September 2016, ‘SAIL fails to get mine developer for Rowghat’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Sharma, D., Catch news, 23rd June 2015, ‘Rowghat mining project: Searing a people to fire up the country’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Hindustan times, 30th March 2014, ‘Raoghat mines in Bastar: Iron in their souls’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

The Financial Express, Kolkata, 13th October 2008, ‘SC flags green signal for forestry clearance to Rowghat’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view], 4th April, 2014, ‘Steeling into Rowghat’s future: Chhattisgarh’s iron ore mines to impact tribals’ liverlihood, damage ecosystem and wildlife irreversibly’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Mineral deposits/occurrence—Iron ore. Mineral Resources Department, Government of Chhattisgarh. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

The Hindu, Raipur, 29th January 2014, ‘Villagers to assist police in anti-Naxal operations’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

The Economic Times, Raipur, 28th January 2014, ‘Naxal conduit opposing Rowghat rail line project arrested’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

News Nation, Raipur, 28th January 2014, ‘Naxal conduit opposing Rowghat rail line project arrested’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

The Hindu, Raipur, June 19th 2011, ‘Chhattisgarh considers specialized force for industrial security’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Kumar, R.,, 1st February 2016, ‘In the shadow of an upcoming iron ore mine in Chhattisgarh, people live in fear of the gun’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Business Standard, Raipur, 28th January 2016, ‘NDMC bets on Rowghat rail project to boost eastern market business’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Kumar, R.,, 2nd February 2016, ‘In Chhattisgarh, mining interests and tribal rights on a collision course’. (last accessed 15th December, 2016).
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan: Objection to Proposed Rowghat Iron Ore Mines of the Bhilai Steel Plant/SAIL in

Kanker and Narayanpur Districts of Bastar Region of Chhattisgarh
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Arpita Bisht, TERI University, New Delhi, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2516
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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