Villagers protest against mining in Chhattisgarh
An organisation of the villagers on Wednesday said no consent has been given for the project, which makes the mining illegal
RAIPUR: Hundreds of tribals have been protesting against iron ore mining in Chhattisgarh’s Rowghat Hills since Saturday saying it is illegal since no consent was taken from the villagers for the project.
An organisation of the villagers on Wednesday said in a statement that Bhilai Steel Plant received the Centre’s permission in January to mine three lakh tonnes of iron ore annually. It added no village council of any affected village has given its consent to the project, which makes the mining illegal.
Bhilai Steel Plant’s chief general manager Samir Swarup maintained they have all necessary clearances for the mining and called the allegations of villagers baseless.
The statement said a few weeks ago the Bhilai Steel Plant’s contractor started iron ore transportation and villagers got two trucks emptied in the middle of village Khodgaon. “At that time, the villagers declared this mining was illegal and tried to register an FIR [first information report] but the police did not register the case.”
The statement added some trucks secretly went to the Rowghat Hills at night, taking advantage of the darkness. It added to stop the mining, the villagers have been camping on a road since Saturday. Trucks carrying iron ore are permitted to ply only during daytime.
Inspector general (Bastar range) Sunderaj P cited a lease agreement and added Bhilai Steel Plant has through its authorised operator started preliminary works. “But villagers of Khodgaon have certain demands with regard to development works in their region like schools/hospitals etc. For the last couple of days, the villagers have put up barricades near their village in support of their demand.” He added though there is no hindrance to the mining, the issue would be addressed.
Arvind Netam of the Chhattisgarh Sarv Adivasi Samaj said he verified with the villagers and found no consent was taken. ”If the Bhilai Steel Plant has claimed it has the consent, it is fake.”