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Chhattisgarh and coal

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of India and coal.
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Coal plants in Chhattisgarh, India

For a full list and map of all coal plants in Chhattisgarh, India, go to CoalSwarm's Global Coal Plant Tracker and choose Region South Asia, Map India - Chhattisgarh.

Opposition

Opposition to new coal-fired power plants in Chhattisgarh has occurred at a number of projects, including Athena Chhattisgarh power station, Baradarha power station, Birra Thermal Power Project, KSK Mahanadi Power Project, and Tamnar II Project.

Opposition to coal mines has occured at the following locations:

September 2011: Public hearing erupts into chaos (Chhattisgarh)

The Birra Thermal Power Project is in the Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh, an agricultural area where the state government has signed memoranda of understanding for 34 new thermal power plants totalling 34,000 MW, almost one-fourth of India's current thermal power capacity. Although the area lacks coal, it became a focal point for developers after neighboring Korba was listed as the fifth most polluted among the Critically Polluted Areas of India in 2009, leading the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to impose a moratorium on further environmental clearances.[1] In an article entitled "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Prakhar Jain describes the following scene at a hearing to consider the Birra project:[1]

As loudspeakers announced the conclusion of the public hearing, the mob started hurling abuses. Company executives ran for their lives. A 100-strong contingent of sleepy policemen, watching the proceedings till then with disinterest, suddenly swung into action to ensure the safety of officials. The scene occurred at Birra village in the nondescript Janjgir-Champa district in Chhattisgarh on 22 September. The occasion was a public hearing for a 1,320 MW power plant proposed by Moser Baer. More than 1,000 people listened as one by one, the aggrieved presented their views. The crowd cheered when Puri Bai from Siladeh screamed that she won’t give her land at any cost. “Where would we and our children go?” she asked.

May 2011: Amnesty International takes up cases of activists imprisoned in Chhattisgarh

For more details on this section, see Imprisonment of two Chhattisgarh activists over opposition to Jindal Power's Tamnar II Project.

On May 28, 2011, two indigenous rights activists, Ramesh Agrawal and Dr Harihar Patel, were arrested in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and denied release on bail.[2]

The state police charged the two men with “circulating defamatory material”, “disrupting public order” and “causing alarm and panic among the public” at a May 8, 2010 mandatory public consultation, held by the state pollution board at Tamnar village, relating to the Tamnar II Project proposed by Jindal Steel and Power.[2]

Agrawal and Patel expressed concerns that the expansion would lead to the forcible acquisition of lands from the surrounding local communities by the authorities. The two activists had objected to the proposal and cited an official inspection report which stated that the expansion began before the mandatory clearances were given. Ramesh Agrawal also successfully petitioned India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests to temporarily suspend the terms of reference for the expansion. Following a complaint relating to the delay, the state authorities decided to arrest the two activists.[2]

Ramesh Agrawal works for the environmental rights organization Jan Chetna, and Dr Harihar Patel practices indigenous medicine. They had been actively campaigning against the pollution caused by existing industrial projects, including coal plants, and the potential negative environmental impact of proposed industrial projects in central Chhattisgarh. The two activists have been at the forefront of the campaign for the public disclosure of information relating to projects which affect local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities and for ensuring that these are available to the communities. Their arrest, Amnesty International believes, is intended to stop their peaceful campaign activities.[2]

The two activists were sent to Raigarh prison until June 3, 2011, and a local court rejected their appeals for release on bail on June 2. Ramesh Agrawal, who complained of hypertension, was taken for treatment at a government-run hospital where he is being kept chained to his bed.[2]

February 2011: Vocal opposition to DB Power coal mine and plant in Chhattisgarh

At a February 28, 2011 public hearing on the mine, 438 people spoke, none of them in support of the project.[3] After public protest against the proposed mine, DB Power submitted an affidavit pledging not to conduct any mining operations in nagar panchayat land. A supplementary letter filed at the Feb. 2011 public hearing promised to re-site any proposed water tanks and coal piles from nagar panchayat land to the remaining leased area. Four villages, however, would still lose their lands.[4] According to activist Ramesh Agarwal: “If the company is really giving up 350 acres of land, it should submit a new EIA report,” saying that the existing report was meaningless as giving up 350 acres of urban land would alter the mining plan of the project. The Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research group, criticised the report for not providing information on the mine’s impact on surface and groundwater sources, forests and fauna: “Almost 40 per cent of land in the project area is covered under forests …There are 11 reserved and 2 protected forests within 10 km radius."[4]

January 2011: 25 people injured in Chhattisgarh protests

On January 17, 2011, at least 25 people were injured and over a hundred were taken into custody during protests by farmers against land acquisition by KSK Energy Ventures Limited, sponsors of the 3,600 MW KSK Mahanadi Power Project at Nariyara village in the Akaltara district of Chhattisgarh, about 170 km from the state capital Raipur. At issue in the protests is the prime quality of the agricultural land being made available for an estimated 40,000 MW of power plants planned for the Janjgir-Champa district. State Congress president Dhanendra Sahu told reporters, "It's a foolish decision, Janjgir-Champa has highly productive farm land and also has access to irrigation facilities. This is a conspiracy by the state government to hand over farmers' prime land to industries."[5]

January 2008: Public hearing in Raigarh on Jindal Power mine ends in chaos (Chhattisgarh)

"Police lathicharge during public hearing in Raigarh, CG"

The following description accompanied a Youtube video filmed at a public hearing on a coal mine to feel the Jindal Power's Tamnar plant:

On 5th January 2008, a public hearing was scheduled in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, for environmental clearance of a coal mine to feed Jindal's thermal power station at Tumnar. All the affected people were against handing over their land to Jindal, given the company's past record in environmental and human rights violation. Halfway through the public hearing, local goons appeared and shouted slogans on behalf of Jindal and its chairman Naveen Jindal. Short while thereafter the police lathicharged on the thousands of villagers injuring more than a thousand people. This video was shot by Ramesh Agarwal.[6]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Prakhar Jain, "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Tehelka Magazine, January 21, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Indian environmental activists held" Amnesty International, June 2, 2011.
  3. Supriya Sharma, "Coal mine threatens to eat up town" The Times of India, March 2, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Aman Sethi, "Stiff resistance to DB Power coalmine in Chhattisgarh" The Hindu, March 1, 2011.
  5. "Power plant protest turns violent, dozens injured," Indo Asian News Service, January 17, 2011
  6. "Police lathicharge during public hearing in Raigarh, CG," Youtube, uploaded January 12, 2008