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Big win for Hasdeo Andolan: Govt told SC, Fresh mines not needed

The Chhattisgarh government has taken a significant stand in its battle against new mining in the ecologically sensitive Hasdeo Aranya

By Ground report
New Update
Big win for Hasdeo Andolan: Govt told SC, Fresh mines not needed

The Chhattisgarh government has taken a significant stand in its battle against new mining in the ecologically sensitive Hasdeo Aranya region.

Coal demand of linked power plants

In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on July 16, as per the report of Hindustan Times, the government asserted that there is no need for fresh mining reserves in the area as the ongoing Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) mine already holds a substantial coal deposit of 350 million tonnes. This deposit is deemed sufficient to meet the coal demand of linked power plants, totalling 4340 MW, for nearly two decades.

The affidavit, presented by Sunil Kumar Mishra, additional principal chief conservation of forest (APCCF), counters the plea filed by Sudeip Shrivastava in the Supreme Court. It adds a new twist to the complex case, involving the Chhattisgarh government, tribal communities challenging the allocation, the Union government, and the state of Rajasthan.

Coal block allocation faced protests, cancelled

After completing the first phase in March 2022, the central government allocated the PEKB coal block to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) for second-phase mining. However, the Rajasthan state-owned company contracted Adani Enterprises to operate the block.

The decision faced protests from local residents, prompting the Chhattisgarh assembly to pass a unanimous resolution for the cancellation of coal blocks in the Hasdeo Arand Area. Subsequently, the Chhattisgarh government requested the Central Government to de-allocate the coal blocks, preserving the pristine form of Hasdeo Aranya.

Arand forest: conservation vs mining

The Hasdeo Arand forest, sprawling across 170,000 hectares, serves as the catchment for the Hasdeo River, a vital tributary of the Mahanadi, and plays a crucial role in ensuring perennial river flow. Additionally, the forest's biodiversity, including protected mammal species, highlights its significance for conservation efforts.

The Chhattisgarh government opposes new mining in Hasdeo Aranya as the ongoing PEKB mine holds ample coal reserves for the next two decades. It requested the Centre to withdraw forest clearance for the Parsa coal block, leading to an unofficial mining halt since April 2021.

The issue is vital for Rajasthan, relying on coal from Chhattisgarh for 50% of its power generation. Hasdeo Arand's dense forest previously faced a "No-Go" classification for mining, but its reopening has sparked attention due to environmental and socio-economic concerns.

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