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Gram Sabhas in Chhattisgarh gear up to protest coal mines reallocation

Before the reallocation, over two dozen coal blocks in Chhattisgarh had landed in troubled water with villagers coming out against any move by government to make fresh allotment of mines.

“About 20 Gram Sabhas in the villages falling under Mand-Raigarh and Hasdeo Arand coalfields had passed resolution opposing the fresh allocation of coal mines,” Alok Shukla, convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (CBA), said. The two coalfields had maximum coal reserves with major mines.

Over 1,000 villagers from the coal-bearing villages under the two coalfields gathered in Bilaspur under the banner of CBA— a non-government organisation working on environmental issues in the state and reiterated its commitment to oppose the mining activities in their areas during the summit. A six-point resolution was also passed in the conference.

“What provided strong substantiation to the villagers committed was the norms that powered people to have their sway in the decision,” Shukla said, explaining that the areas comes under 5th schedule and the Panchayat Extension in Schedule Area (PESA) act is applicable that compels the government to allocate mine and give environment consent only with the approval of gram sabha.

The summit passed a six-point resolution demanding that no amendment should be made to the Coal Nationalization Act and interests of mine workers should be suitably protected. The Central Government should immediately withdraw the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance and Bill and should develop a visionary, people-friendly policy that protects the rights of the ordinary people and lays special emphasis on environment conservation, the resolution added.

PESA Act 1996 and Forest Rights Act 2006, which were obtained after a long struggle by the adivasis, should be honored and there should be no dilution in the rights obtained through these legislations, the resolution added.

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