"Authorities are pressurising us to call off Coal Satyagraha"

   Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, India
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Description

"My name is Harihar Prasad Patel calling from Gare village under Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. On 2nd October 2015, we organised a Koyla (Coal) Satyagraha. Since then, we are digging our land and it is under progress where, at present, sand, top soil and mud is getting removed.We have not extracted coal so far but officials and local administration are threatening local villagers. Gare village, which comes under the Gare IV/6 Coal block, has adivasi families who are dependent on rice production and agriculture for many decades.

We asked the officials that if villagers are doing something illegal, then give us assurance in writing that the Gare IV/6 coal block- which falls under the Gare Gram Panchyat consisting of 6 villages- will never be auctioned by any company, either public or private.

We haven't yet received any assurance. That's why we are continuing our work and people of 15-20 villages have come together to remove the top soil for extracting coal from our land.Even the Supreme Court passed an order that mineral rights lie with the land owner. We are following the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi where he had initiated Satyagraha against salt tax."

Details

The area that will be dug up is private land that hasn't yet been acquired. This land lies next to the banks of the Kelo river, where coal is visible at the top. People have been taking coal from this land for their personal use. 


The closest coal block here is the Gare IV/6 block. This was earlier allocated to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. (JSPL), and then cancelled as part of the Supreme Court verdict on the coal scam.


The Ministry of Coal saw the end-use of the coal from Gare IV/6 more befitting the power sector, and not steel and cement, and pulled it off the auction block.


JSPL challenged these new end-use rules in the Delhi High Court, saying it was unfair to players like them, who could no longer bid for Gare IV/6. The Delhi HC sided with them. The Centre then appealed this decision in the Supreme Court, where the matter currently rests.