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‘Hasdeo forest protest site burned down’

In the Hariharpur village of Surguja district, a peaceful protest aimed at protecting the Hasdeo forest has been ongoing for over two years.

By Ground report
New Update
‘Hasdeo forest protest site burned down’

In the Hariharpur village of Surguja district, a peaceful protest aimed at protecting the Hasdeo forest has been ongoing for over two years. Recently, the site was deliberately set on fire in an attempt to disperse the dedicated protestors. The protest, which has persisted for 750 days, seeks to preserve the forest’s biodiversity, the indigenous land and water resources, the local environment, and the cultural heritage of the tribal community.

Hasdeo forest protest site burned down

A resident and protester from Hariharpur voiced their unwavering determination and the collective sentiment of the community, "We have come to know that someone, through Adani's influence, has attempted to quash our movement using deceitful tactics today in our Hariharpur, where we are due to sit in protest at two o'clock tonight. Someone has set a fire, and I want to tell them directly, whether it's the company or the administration here attempting to crush our movement, that we are individuals of thought, and if they think they can break our resolve by setting fire to the place where we sit, they may be right. We are individuals of ideology, operating based on principles".

He added, "While they may burn our protest site, they cannot burn our ideologies. We are fighting constitutionally on a constitutional post, and vigilantly fighting for the past ten years, we have never allowed any kind of interference. We fought in Shantipur, but today, the company and administration together have attempted to crush our movement".

"Now we can see that someone has completely burnt down the entire seating arrangement we made, so I strongly condemn this attempt to annihilate us in this way. For us, for our tribals, for the deities of our village, for all the loved ones of our songs, it is a very sad event. Today we are fighting to save our villages, our forests, and our entire heritage, but the government is using strategies to crush our girl in this way. So, this is a very sad thing," he added.

Hasdeo forest coal mining protests

Noisy scenes erupted in the Chhattisgarh assembly on February 7. The Congress legislators protested against the felling of 15,000 trees in the Hasdeo-Arand forests on December 21, 2023, to make room for a coal mining project. The Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a peoples' movement, exemplified not only a political tussle between two parties, but also showed how it has gained momentum and exerted power.

The movement is led by indigenous people (Adivasis) in the Hasdeo-Arand forest against coal mining by Adani Enterprises Limited. They've been protesting for about 13 years now. Recently, cutting trees over 137 hectares took place for the second phase of coal mining in the Parsa East and Kete Basan coal blocks. Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam got the area allocated, but Adani Group got the contract to mine there.

Activists say that over 15,000 trees have been cut since 2012, and another 399,000 trees may face the axe for mining coal. The opposition Congress is concerned that the decision will adversely affect the flora, fauna, and tribals who live in the area. 

Reports state that someone felled 41 hectares of trees in 2022, and they granted clearance for an additional 93 hectares in November 2023. Both the Congress and the BJP criticised each other for mining-related deforestation during their respective times in the Opposition.

The BJP led the Chhattisgarh state assembly for 15 years in the over two decades of its existence. However, the Adivasis of Hasdeo argue that neither the BJP nor the Congress respect their political decisions.

Keep Reading

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

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