Dhirauli coal block in Singrauli district in Madhya Pradesh- Prima facie violation of PESA Act and Forest Rights Act

Coal

To

Shri A L Meena

Union Secretary for Coal

Shri A K Jha

Union Secretary for Tribal; Affairs

Dear S/Shri Meena and Jha,

The Ministry of Coal has allotted the Dhirauli coal block located in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh to the Adani Group’s subsidiary, Stratatech Mineral Resources Pvt Ltd as a mineral development operator. Coal mining in that block will displace a large number of families including those belonging to the Scheduled Tribes, especially those belonging to a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), apart from resulting in extensive deforestation.

From a reply given by the Ministry of Coal in respect of the Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 3377 on 9th August, 2023, the said coal block is located in an area notified under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution and it attracts the protective provisions of the PESA Act. Under the PESA Act, the local Gram Sabhas are required to hold a prior discussion on the proposal to take up mining and pass a resolution agreeing to it or otherwise. The apex court of India, in the well known case against bauxite mining by the Vedanta Group in Niyamgiri Hill in Kalahandi/ Raigarh districts of Odisha, pronounced a landmark judgement on 18th April, 2013, reiterating the above-cited statutory protection granted under the PESA Act. Evidently, the decision to auction the Dhirauli coal block has been imposed from above in violation of the PESA Act.

In addition, under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the traditional forest-dwelling communities, especially those belonging to the Scheduled Tribes, have individual and community rights of occupation in the forest area that would be affected by coal mining in the area. The local Gram Sabhas have the right to discuss and decide in such matters. To the best of my knowledge, the decision of the Ministry of Coal to allow a private company to mine coal from the Dhirauli coal block had not been compliant with the requirements under the FRA.

In my view, the decision of the Ministry of Coal to allot the Dhirauli coal mine to a private company is therefore prima facie illegal and it needs to be revoked forthwith.

May I request you to act accordingly?

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Secretary to the Government of India

Visakhapatnam

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