Adani closer to min­ing in green zone

COAL MIN­ING FAC asks Ch­hat­tis­garh gov­ern­ment to re­con­firm the pres­ence or ab­sence of dense for­est in the north­east­ern part of the land

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Htnation - Jayashree Nandi


NEW DELHI: The For­est Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (FAC) of the Union en­vi­ron­ment min­istry has granted stage-1 pre­lim­i­nary for­est clear­ance to the Parsa open­cast coal mine, to be op­er­ated by a unit of bil­lion­aire Gau­tam Adani’s Adani En­ter­prises Lim­ited, in the forested Sur­guja and Su­ra­jpur dis­tricts of Ch­hat­tis­garh.

The mine falls in one of the largest con­tigu­ous stretches of very dense for­est in cen­tral In­dia called Has­deo Arand that spans 170,000 ha (hectares). Of this, 841.538 ha of bio­di­ver­sity-rich for­est land, about the size of 800 foot­ball fields, has been cleared for min­ing.

A spokesper­son for Adani En­ter­prises de­clined to com­ment. The mine is owned by Ra­jasthan Ra­jya Vidyut Ut­padan Nigam Lim­ited (RRVUNL), which has handed over the min­ing op­er­a­tions to Ra­jasthan Col­lieries Lim­ited, a sub­sidiary of Adani En­ter­prises.

In 2009, the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry cat­e­gorised Has­deo Arand a so-called “no-go” area for min­ing be­cause of its rich for­est cover. The en­vi­ron­ment min­istry un­der­took a study in nine ma­jor coal­fields and the coal blocks lo­cated in these coal­fields were clas­si­fied as “go” and “no-go” ar­eas, based on whether they had un­frag­mented forests. Has­deo Arand has 30 coal blocks.

Soon after, in 2011, coal blocks even in no-go ar­eas were opened up be­cause the go, no-go pol­icy never got off the ground. There are two op­er­a­tional mines presently on the fringes of Has­deo.

Min­utes of an FAC meet­ing held on Jan­uary 15, 2019 state: “FAC has de­cided to rec­om­mend for grant of in-prin­ci­ple ap­proval, with…a spe­cific con­di­tion: the state gov­ern­ment (Ch­hat­tis­garh) shall re­con­firm the pres­ence or ab­sence of very dense for­est in the north­east­ern part of the pro­posed for­est land un­der di­ver­sion and scope of ex­clud­ing the same from the pro­posal.”

Sid­dhanta Das, di­rec­tor gen­eral of forests, con­firmed that the project has been granted stage-1 ap­proval, in which a pro­posal is agreed to in prin­ci­ple. “Dur­ing our anal­y­sis, we found that a small part of the area may be very dense for­est, so we have asked the state gov­ern­ment to check. Ch­hat­tis­garh has been pur­su­ing the project for a long time now. We don’t want any dense for­est to be opened up so we have made this sug­ges­tion,” Das added.

Alok Shukla, con­vener of the Ch­hat­tis­garh Bachao An­dolan, claimed that the en­tire area that is pro­posed to be opened up to min­ing is pris­tine for­est area. “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. The process of set­tling for­est rights among the tribal pop­u­la­tion liv­ing here has not been com­pleted. It seems like the gov­ern­ment is in a hurry to clear the mine be­fore the gen­eral election,” said Shukla.

The min­utes of the FAC’S meet­ing state that ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary (for­est), Ch­hat­tis­garh was keen to con­duct an­other site in­spec­tion with a larger com­mit­tee and over a longer du­ra­tion. The FAC, how­ever, de­cided that “no ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion is ex­pected to be ob­tained by one more site in­spec­tion”. The mine can be op­er­a­tional once the com­pany has re­ceived en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance and a fi­nal go-ahead from Ch­hat­tis­garh gov­ern­ment.

SS Meena, di­rec­tor of Ra­jasthan Ra­jya Vidyut Ut­padan Nigam Lim­ited, said “We can start min­ing op­er­a­tions after re­ceiv­ing the stage-2 for­est clear­ance. The min­ing con­tract has been given to Ra­jasthan Col­lieries Lim­ited (RCL) and not Adani.”

RCL, how­ever, is listed as a sub­sidiary of Adani Green En­ergy Lim­ited on the Bom­bay Stock Ex­change.

“Has­deo is one of the few re­main­ing un­frag­mented forests in In­dia, which is cur­rently pur­sued not just for Parsa but sev­eral other ad­join­ing coal mines. This lat­est in-prin­ci­ple ap­proval has been granted with­out the com­ple­tion of sev­eral le­gal re­quire­ments,” said Kanchi Kohli, le­gal re­searcher at the Cen­tre for Pol­icy Re­search (CPR).

“There were sev­eral eco­log­i­cal stud­ies and bio­di­ver­sity as­sess­ment of the Has­deo Arand re­gion as re­quired by the NGT (Na­tional Green Tri­bunal) judg­ment in 2014 that are still pend­ing. The site in­spec­tion re­port for Parsa has rec­om­mended the for­est di­ver­sion not by tak­ing a view of the im­pacts of min­ing, but on the grounds that there is ‘no al­ter­na­tive to coal,’” Kohli added.


The mine falls in one of the largest con­tigu­ous stretches of very dense for­est called Has­deo Arand that spans 170,000 hectares.

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