India: Raising livelihood concerns, villagers protest against mining in Mahan forest, Mahan coal denies allegations
Headquartered in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh in India, Mahan Coal Limited is a joint venture between Essar Power Ltd and Hindalco Industries Ltd. It was established to develop the Mahan Coal Block in 2006. Villagers & activists have registered protest & complaints aggainst development of coal block raising livelihood & environmental concerns. At the Gram Sabha meeting residents of Amelia village of Singrauli filed their Community Forest Rights (CFR) claim and presented documentary evidence that would establish that they have been dependent on Mahan forests for their livelihood for several generations. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Mahan Coal Limited to respond to the concerns raised, response included.
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Greenpeace activists claim villagers opposing the project are being threatened with physical violence by people working for MCL, hate-speeches against the environmental group are being made by local politicians, and bribes of alcohol and money are being offered...MCL refutes the allegations made by Greenpeace, saying they were "misguided" and misleading...We strongly condemn continuous misrepresentation of facts by some persons and institutions having vested interests; and misguiding and misleading the villagers and general public by them," said MCL's Chief Executive Officer Ramakant Tiwari.
Greenpeace International...joined Greenpeace India's call for Indian authorities to protect democracy and ensure a fair and transparent village council vote in the Mahan forest, over a proposed coal mine development by Essar and Hindalco, where Essar is the majority beneficiary.The local administration in Mahan has called for a Gram Sabha (village council vote)...in order to meet the legal requirement of seeking the forest community's consent to the mine. This will be the second vote after Greenpeace India and the local community members exposed clear indications of corruption involving the forgery of votes at last year's Gram Sabha...In the run-up to the vote, the forest community's rights have been violated in a systematic clampdown including the intimidation of villagers...The Mahan coal mine is not only placing the climate at risk, but will also destroy the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on the Mahan forest for survival.
CFR recognised under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) are important for securing livelihood of forest communities and for strengthening self governance of forests and natural resources. President of the Forest Rights Committee in Amelia village and...Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS)..consistent efforts...have been successful in convincing the administration that the March 6 Gram Sabha resolution was forged. However, there have been efforts to quash the movement as well.At the Gram Sabha held on Sunday, a resolution to ban Greenpeace, an NGO, from entering the region was proposed.
Author: Responding to Climate Change
While Essar and Hindalco announced that they had secured the necessary forest clearance rights from the government in February this year, they are legally required to gain the consent of the forest community through the Gram Sabha...Villagers are preparing to resist the intrusion into the forest. Last week, resistance group Mahan Sangharsh Samiti filed their community forests rights, a legal right granted under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). If recognised, this will strengthen their claims of ownership over the Mahan’s resources.
Author: Ramakant Tiwari, Mahan Coal Limited
It has been noticed that some persons and institutions having vested interests are publishing misguiding and misleading statements in relation to Mahan Coal Limited, and are thereby provoking villagers and other people under the pretext of environment and tribal rights...We strongly condemn continuous misrepresentation of facts by some persons and institutions having vested interests; and misguiding and misleading the villagers and general public by them. Such actions not only delay the Project but also prevent the villagers from getting their legitimate benefits and compensation. Further, it also stalls the economic development of the country and hampers public purpose. Mahan Coal Limited remains committed to sustainable development of Mahan coal block, in a safe and socially responsible manner.