Coal block auctions in Telangana attract prohibitive provisions under PESA/FRA



Smt Alka Tiwari



Dear Smt Tiwari,

I understand that the Ministry of Coal has notified Sathupalli-3 and Penagadapa coal blocks in Telangana. These blocks are located in villages covered within the Scheduled Areas of the State as follows:

Sathupalli-3 coal block: Lankapalli and Kottur villages in Khammam district

Penagadapa coal block: Penagadapa, Seethaigudem, Tippanapalle villages in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district

Since these coal blocks, as well as many other coal blocks being auctioned elsewhere, are located in the Scheduled Areas of different States and coal mining disrupts the lives of the adivasis, the Ministry of Coal should have held a prior consultation with the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes (NCST) as required under Article 338A(9). To the best of my knowledge, no such consultation has been made.

The two coal blocks in Telangana referred to above are located in villages that fall within the Scheduled Areas. Mining of those blocks attracts the provisions of both the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Forest Rights Act (FRA)

In accordance with the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, the Ministry of Coal ought not to have taken a unilateral decision without the local tribal Gram Sabhas discussing the matter and giving their prior consent.

This is a legal requirement that was reiterated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in WP(Civil) No. 180/2011 (Vedanta bauxite mining case in Odisha).

In addition, in the Samatha case (Civil Appeal Nos. 4601-02 of 1991(1) with Civil Appeal No.4603 1997 (2) (arising out of S.L.P. © Nos. 17080-81 of 1995 with 21457 of 1993 D/- 11-7-1997), the apex court held that no private agency could undertake mining in the Scheduled Areas.

I will be grateful if the NCST can intervene in the matter urgently.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to the Govt of India


Former Commissioner (Tribal Welfare) in Andhra



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