New Delhi | Human rights group Amnesty International has claimed that abusive laws and the poor enforcement of safeguards at coal mines is leading tribal communities to oppose expansion of these blocks.
The NGO in a report on mining of dry fuel and violations of tribal rights has alleged that the Centre and the states don’t seem to care to speak or listen to the vulnerable Adivasi communities whose lands are acquired and forest is destroyed for coal mining.
Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations, Amnesty International Executive Director Aakar Patel said.
Though, government plans to double coal output by 2020 and Coal India (CIL) wants to mine a billion tonnes annually, yet the Centre and the states do not seem to talk to or to listen to tribals living in coal mining areas, he added.
CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic coal production, is eying an output of 598 MT this fiscal. It is targeting an output of one billion tonnes by 2020.
When contacted, the Coal Ministry said: We strongly object to the baseless canards being spread, which are part of a conspiracy to derail the development and progress of India and efforts to provide livelihood for people deprived of fruits of development for nearly seven decades after independence.
It is always easy to provide few stray cases and exaggerate the findings instead of looking at the structural reforms which are sustainably improving the lives of 125 crore Indians, it added.
India constitutes 17 per cent of the world’s population and is contributing less than 2.5 per cent of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. In fact our coal consumption today is less than what the Western countries were consuming 150 years ago, the Ministry said.
The report claims to expose a pattern of human rights violations in open cast mines run by CIL subsidiaries — South Eastern Coalfields Ltd’s (SECL) Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Ltd’s (CCL) Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd’s (MCL) Basundhara- West mine in Odisha.
The report is based interviews with 124 affected tribals across three mining areas; village, district and state officials from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha; state forest and pollution control boards; and local journalists, activists and lawyers.
It also includes interviews with the representatives of CIL subsidiaries — SECL, MCL and CCL.
Former Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said: Mineral reserves are not the property of any government. Development that does not include the Adivasi and that leaves out the poorest of the poor is not development, but exploitation.
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