Coal is not a commodity of corporate profits, but valuable national wealth that has connected the lives of hundreds of people and the future of generations to come.
Today, on 18 June, Prime Minister Modi started the process of mines for commercial use. In his speech, he said that exploitation of coal resources for economic benefits, in which making India’s important role in exports, are the main objectives of this process. Later, when the list of mines to be auctioned came out, it was found that many blocks in it are in dense forest, full of biodiversity, environmentally significant areas, which were formerly known as No-Go and currently Inviolate. There are also many areas where gram sabhas are already opposing the PESA, forest rights and the use of the rights of the Fifth Schedule and this protest has already been made known to all the concerned ministers including the Prime Minister before the auction. It is clear that the government has made the precious coal resource merely a market item – in which there is no place for the country’s coal needs, public interest, environmental and social decisions, and constitutional rights of the gram sabha. This completely contradicts the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment in the Colgate case where it was clearly stated that it There is “national wealth” which should only be used for the needs of the country in public
Is the new auction for coal export? Or is there import of pollution and displacement?
Various government documents, Coal India Limited vision-2030, CEA plans, etc. have already stated that there is no need to allocate any more mines for the coal needs of the country. Coal India Limited’s own scheme, and the currently allocated mines, is capable of meeting the needs of India’s next 10 years. For this reason, earlier auction attempts failed in which even minimum bidders could not be found for most of the mines. Many of the mines whose auctions were successful, have also raised their hands. In such a situation, the important
question is that when the earlier auctions failed, the old mines are not running, new coal production is not required, then why this auction? The answer is found only in Modi ji’s speech
In which they want India to become a major exporter of coal. But even at the international level, there is no hope of increasing demand for coal. According to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the serious side effects of coal mining, many countries are moving towards the end of coal mining, so India’s focus on coal exports is clear that it is only pollution and displacement imports.
The destruction of dense forest areas and serious environmental crisis are evident in the auction
It is clear that in the new policy and auction process, objectives like India-building and public interest have been completely ignored. The mines included in the auction are located in India’s most dense forests and environmentally significant areas. Many of these mines are in No-Go / Inviolate areas, which have been considered so important in government documents that conservation in the Inca Harar situation is extremely important (such areas are less than 10 percent of India’s total coalfields). Also, many mines are located in elephant-habitat areas, the destruction of which will intensify the human-elephant conflict. The death of 6 elephants in the last 10 days indicates this. In such a situation, new mines will deepen the possibility of serious environmental crisis and this auction is also against India’s commitment under the Paris Agreement.
Humiliation of Gram Sabha and displacement of tribals-
Many of the mines in the auction list are in the tribal-dominated Fifth Schedule Areas where the public community enjoys exclusive rights under the PESA Act 1996 and the Forest Rights Act 2006, under which consent of the Gram Sabhas is required before mining. In this regard, Hasdev Aranya has already expressed his opposition on behalf of the gram sabhas and has urged the Prime Minister not to auction them. But disrespecting the gram sabhas, 3 mines are being auctioned in Hasdev Aranya. That also means commercial mining for the benefit of a few companies.
The Modi government has made it clear that its constitutional provisions have no faith and nothing to do with environmental protection. Worry only for the profits of selected companies.
CHHATTISGARH BACHAO ANDOLAN
Shankar Nagar Raipur, Chhattisgarh
18 June 2020