May 29, Bhopal : Coalition of people’s organisation in MP, Jan Sangharsh Morcha (JSM), has opposed the possible clearance to be given to Mahan and Chatrasal coal block in the Singauli, at group of ministers meeting scheduled on 30th May. JSM has urged the MOEF and GOM that in the view of settlement of Adivasi rights over forest yet to be settled and, also, considering the quality of forest involved in these coal blocks, the permission to these coal blocks should continue to be withheld. The Clarence without settling the rights of Adivasi will amount to violation of Adivasi rights and attract penal provisions under SCST, ACT, 1989 and FRA, 2006 read together. The JSM would be soon sending a formal letter opposing the proposed Clarence, to MOEF and PMO.
JSM’ convener Anurag Modi has said that the Ruia of ESSAR and Aditya Birla of Hindalco Group has been lobbying with the UPA government for past three years to transfer Mahan coal block from “no go’ zone to go zone. The lobbying has resulted in UPA government proposing to give clearance to Mahan coal field on the face of various experts committee, including earlier minister of MOEF, Jairam Ramesh, recommending against the clearance. For example, citing various environmental and Adivasi rights issues the subcommittee members- Mahesh Ranrajan; an academician, C. D. Singh Inspector General, H.C. Chodhary Assistant Inspector general of Forest of Forest – of Forest Advisory Committee in its filed report on Mahan coal block visited on 4th and 6th June 2011, has very categorically said in its report that the process of settlement of community rights is yet to initiated; and the civil and forest personnel are not aware of provisions of community rights. The report further said that the settlement of community rights in the Mahan area would have given rights over forest resources in the vicinity. . Though, there is no direct displacement from the coal block, giving away the forest for Mahan coal block without settling the rights of Adivasisis living in the vicinity of the mahan forest, amounts to displacement as they will not be able to survive in the area without having right to resources. According to the section 3 (V) of THE SCHEDULED CASTES AND THE SCHEDULED TRIBES (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989, who being non member of SC ST community, “wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water” is an offence. The section 4(5) of the Forest Right Act, 2006, restrict eviction of forest dwellers from their possession of forest land till the verification and recognition process under the act is completed. Reading of both the act together will make the clearance to Mahan, without settling the community rights of Adivasi’, an offence.
JSM further said that the quality of forest involved in the coal block also poses serious questions. The forest advisory subcommittee has said that the tree cover is of very good quality and its habitat for endangered wild life species listed in schedule I of wild life act, 1972.
Member organisations of JSM: Narmada bachao Andolan, Shramik Adivasi Snagthan, Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangathan, Samajwadi jan Parisahd, Bargi Bandh Vishtapit and Prbhavit Sangh, MP Mahila Manch, Nari Chetna Manch.