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Mahan Coal Limited, India


Mahan Coal Limited is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) firm of Hindalco Industries (Aditya Birla Group) and Essar Power. Mahan Coal Limited (MCL) is going to extract coal from Mahan block of Singrauli fields in Madhya Pradesh. Coal produced by MCL will supply coal to the proposed power plants of both Essar and Hindalco. Essar Power is investing Rs 4,000 crore for a 1,000MW power project while Hindalco is setting up a 750-MW captive power plant with an estimated investment of Rs 2,400 crore. As per the lease agreement, Essar will use 60% of the coal output and Hindalco will take the remaining 40%. The mine, with proven reserves of 150m tonne of coal, will cater to the combined Rs 6,400 crore power projects being set up by the two conglomerates [1].

Companies, mostly thermal power plants, are in a rush to acquire land there by hook or by crook. Mahan Coalfields Limited, a joint venture of Essar and Hindalco, wanted 1,000 ha forestland that fell under the environment ministrys no-go zone. It applied for diversion. A group of ministers recently cleared the land for mining [2] Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS), fighting against the operation of Mahan coal block. Officials of forest department and Mahan Coal Ltd had started numbering the trees in the forest before cutting for clearing the mining land. Villagers of the area gathered in the forest to stop tree numbering. Villagers also submitted a memorandum at a public hearing at the district collectors office saying the process a blatant violation of their rights [3, 4].

Basic Data

NameMahan Coal Limited, India
ProvinceMadhya Pradesh
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
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesElectricity


Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsMahan Coal Limited ('MCL'), a joint venture company between Hindalco lndustries Limited ('HIL') and Essar Power M.P Limited ('EPMPL'), has been granted a captive coal block ('Mahan Coal Block') in Singaruli District of Madhya Pradesh, which will mine coal for the two ventured companies. The total coal reserves are about 144 Million Tonnes with the grade of coal as E to F. The Mahan Coal Block isto produce 8.5 Million Tonnes of coal per annum by open cast mining system [5] The investment corresponds to INR 6,400 Crore, more than US$ 1 billion.
Project Area (in hectares)1,072
Level of Investment (in USD)1,040,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population14,000
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesAditya Birla Group from India
Essar Power Limited from India
Hindalco Industries Limited from India
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Coal, Government of India, Ministry of Enviornment & Forest, Madhya Pradesh Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS), Greenpeace India, Kalpavriksh

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Bollywood actor Abhay Deol (Green Peace Campaign)
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesGreenpeace India demands a moratorium on all new coal mining activity in forest areas till the government sets criteria for inviolate forests (those closed to mining) through a transparent consultative process.The campaigners argue that renewable-energy can power our future as it will be cheaper and a healthier alternative [4]
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.If the project materalized, the forest will be lost. Forests need to be protected.

According to the MoEF note on Mahan, a range of factors go against the allocation of this area for coal mining including its richness of biodiversity. Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh said that he is not clear why such a good quality forest area should be broken up for such a partial requirement. With this the ministry recommended that an alternative coal linkage be provided for the power plants rather than grant approval to the Mahan coal block [6]

Sources and Materials


National environment policy 2006

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 with Amendments Made in 1988

Convention On Biological Diversity (INDIA)



Singrauli: The Coal Curse


[1] Welcome to Mahan Coal Limited

[2] Indias poisonous coal use set to increase

[3] Villagers in Mahan forest protest marking of trees

[4] Actor Abhay Deol joins protest against coal mining in Singrauli

[5] Upcoming Projects

[6] Mera Bharat aur Mahan

Green Clearance Watch

Villagers in Mahan forest protest marking of trees


Mahan at all costs

Coal mines: Minister pulls up MP for coercing tribals


Media Links

Jungle na milenge dobara

Abhay Deol in Singrauli

Forests vs Coal Mining: Times Now exclusive feat. Abhay Deol

When 1000 people come together to take back what is theirs, you have this!

Junglistan - The Story of the Forest Dwellers (Full Version)

Meta Information

ContributorSohan Prasad Sha & Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update11/09/2014