Despite the protests, the Chhattisgarh forestry department on Tuesday began cutting down trees for an upcoming coal mining project in the biodiversity-rich Hasdeo Arand region, amid protests by locals and concerns expressed by activists that mining in the area would cause the destruction of the forest and lead to attacks between humans and animals conflict.
Cutting Hasdeo forests
The speed is so fast that 2000 trees were demolished in just 6 hours. In the first phase, it is proposed to cut down 45 hectares of forest. It has about 8,000 trees. For this, villagers who oppose the mine have been arrested.
Trees are being felled for the second phase of Hasdeo Aranya’s Parsa East Kete Basan (PEKB) coal mines in Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh. In the first phase, trees will be felled from Basen to Bambaru. It is said that the forest will be cut in 1138 hectares.
According to the villagers, around 3 or 4 in the morning, the police team picked up the rioters from their houses. They are all kept in different places.
“Some outsiders are opposing PEKB-2 on behalf of Parsa Coal Mines, saying it is a new mine, which is completely misleading and untrue. There has never been any objection from the locals regarding this area of the PEKB-2,” said the administrative head of the district.
“Trees are being cut down at breakneck speed in Hasdeo for the PEKB phase II coal mines. Strong police forces have been deployed to the site and the demarcated forest is completely cordoned off. Nobody can enter the forest area. The sarpanch from the villages of Gha barra and Paturiya Dand was arrested along with other protesters. The villagers demanded the cancellation of the coal blocks through a written order,” said Bipashu Paul, an activist working in the Hasdeo Arand area.
Activist Alok Shukla, the convener of the NGO Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, which works for environmental causes and tribal rights, stated that mining in the ecologically sensitive region of Hasdeo Arand would result in the destruction of 1,70,000 hectares of forest and would trigger a conflict between humans and elephants.
The Hasdeo Arand area in Surguja, the northern district of Chhattisgarh, is one of the largest blocks of forests in central India. It is spread over 170,000 hectares and its forests are home to more than 350 species of animals. The unique Hasdeo forest in Chhattisgarh is also home to 20,000 tribal people.
200,000 trees will be cut down
Alok Shukla, the convener of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, made up of organizations fighting for the forests of Hasdeo, said, “Hasdeo’s movement has got great success due to this public participation. Today the whole country stands with us in our movement.
He said, “We urge the central and state governments to again take cognizance of their demands and declare the Hasdeo rich forest as a protected area by making it mining-free. Until all our demands are met, the agitation will proceed in a more comprehensive manner.”
The huge Parsa mine, located in the woods where thousands of Gondans, Oraon Adivasi and Dalit live, was approved. In addition to the destruction of land and livelihoods, 200,000 trees will be cut down.
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