Chhattisgarh: Govt gives approval for auction of 17 coal blocks, activists raise voice against move

Raipur: Chhattisgarh state which produces around 150 million tonnes of coal annually, is going to witness auction of 17 more coal blocks soon. The activists started raising their voice against the government’s new decision.

Chhattisgarh government’s cabinet committee has given green signal for the auctioning of 17 coal blocks out of 18 identified by the Government of India, Ministry of Coal, a government statement said on Wednesday.

The cabinet committee approved that the nominated Authority will carry out an auction as the 12 tranche for sale of coal, the release said.

The controversial decision came when it was already known that forest cover area in the state is highly distressed and jungle areas are dwindling at a faster rate due to mining and industry related activities, said Alok Shukla, convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan. The new decision will put entire wildlife-rich areas natural habitat for elephants, sloth bears and leopards at stake.

Instead of giving approval the state government should have opposed commercial mining because the decision will hurt the interests of Chhattisgarh state, it will speed up the pace of environmental destruction and displacements, Shukla said. Secondly, the state government is not going to get any special revenue either because of the lower coal rates due to falling demand of coal globally. Forty-four of the previously allocated coal blocks (between 2015-20) are yet to start operations. No new power plants are coming here. So, lastly there is no scope of shooting em up the demand of coal.

The auction is not for the country’s coal needs rather to serve the interests of corporates and gave them excessive profits, Degree Chouhan, convenor of Adiwasi Dalit Majdoor Kishan Sangarh organization said.

If the government will not reconsider its decision, it has to face opposition from the indigenous tribes and the affected, he added.

Notably, as per government records, Chhattisgarh produces around 150 million tonnes of coal annually. It has around 58,589 million tonne coal reserves. These 17 blocks fall in Dharamjaigarh, Sarguja, Surajpur and Koriya forest divisions. The coal mining of these coal blocks can generate around 8,000 million tonnes of coal.

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