Against Deforestation of Hasdeo Arand, Chhattisgarh for coal mining

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The Union environment ministry has given environmental clearance for open cast coal mining in Parsa in Chhattisgarh’s dense Hasdeo Arand forests, in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for forest cover conservation in India

Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest contiguous stretches of very dense forest in central India, spanning about 170,000 hectares.In 2009, this area was classified as 'no-go' zone for development work because of its rich forest cover. 

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Alok Shukla, convener of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, said that the entire area that is proposed to be opened up to mining lies in pristine forest area. He also said- "Not only is it dense forest, Hasdeo Arand is an important elephant corridor and has a huge hydrological impact on the region. Tribals here are completely dependent on forest produce."

Reports also suggest that Hasdeo is one of the few remaining unfragmented forests in India, and the latest approval has been granted without completing essential legal requirements.

Majority of the Parsa coal block is dense and reserve forest and opening it for mining is going to impact the forests of the entire Hasdeo region and the nearby Hasdeo river,” said Alok Shukla of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan. With the area being an important elephant corridor, Shukla maintained that disturbance of the corridor could increase elephant encounters with humans. “In the proposed coal block area, five people have been killed in the last three years due to human-elephant conflict. If these forests are destroyed and mining is allowed, the human-elephant conflict would only rise,” he said.

Shukla stressed that the local villagers are also opposing the project.

“They accuse that there is a clear case of violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 as the community and individual claims under the FRA in the area are pending. They point out that the gram sabhas (village councils) have not given their consent as well. This mining project should not go through. We have met the new Congress-led Chhattisgarh government about this project and have demanded form them to withdraw permission to the project. Villagers in the Hasdeo region recently took out a 28-kilometre long foot march to protest against it,” Shukla told Mongabay-India.

Stuck in the midst of bureaucracy, politicians and the courts, the biodiversity and coal-rich Hasdeo Arand forest region in Chhattisgarh, stares at a grim future.