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Court tells SP to probe gram sabha nod to Mahan coal mines

The Jabalpur High Court has ordered the superintendent of police (SP) of Singrauli to conduct an inquiry into a “forged” resolution, allegedly passed in Mahan gram sabha in March this year, giving stage-II clearance to mining activity at the Mahan coal mines.  

Acting on a writ petition filed by an activist of the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) and Greenpeace, Priya Pillai, the high court directed the SP to submit the probe report within seven days and communicate the outcome to the petitioner in the next 30 days.

“The SP has to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the issue. If the inquiry reveals a cognizable offence, an FIR (first information report) should be filed and necessary action should be taken against the station-in-charge of Maada police station. The in-charge had refused to register an FIR despite repeated attempts. If no cognizable offence is found, we should be given an answer in writing within the next 30 days,” said Pillai.

Greenpeace had alleged the gram sabha resolution in question was a “forged” one. “The document even contains names of people, who were dead long ago,” Greenpeace alleged.

“In February this year, Veerappa Moily-led environment ministry granted the stage-II forest clearance on the basis of this gram sabha resolution. Following this, MSS began a peaceful ‘Van Sataygraha’ and declared the clearance null and void,” the Greenpeace added.

Singrauli District Collector M Selvendran had assured Greenpeace that a fresh gram sabha meeting would be held if any discrepancy was found in the resolution. “Several months have passed since he said this and we still do not know the outcome of the inquiry or the action the district collector has taken,” Pillai said.  

The Mahan mines are to be used by a joint venture of Essar and Hindalco for the power plants in the region.

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