Venue change affects villagers in JSPL public hearing

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Authorities seek villagers’ opinion for granting environment clearances to mine coal from Gare 4/6 coal block under Mand coalfields
RAIPUR: Business Standard reported that the coal would be mined from the Gare coalfields. But the public hearing for the clearance took place elsewhere.

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The authorities organised the public hearing convened to seek villagers’ opinion for granting environment clearances to the JSPL to mine coal from the Gare 4/6 coal block under the Mand coalfields.

The public hearing for the same was however held in Tihrirampur, which is least affected village from the project.

Gare village is the worst affected village from the project. The villagers however lodged their strong protest over the change in the venue that prevented people from Gare to attend the event.

They blamed the authorities of helping the company by changing the venue of the public hearing.

“About 90 per cent of the project area of Gare coal block is in Gare village while the administration organised the public hearing elsewhere that is not correct,” Harihar Patel said while recording his statement during the hearing. People in 15 villages have organised Pad-Yatra and took the signature of the people who had been opposing the project, he added.

The heavy deployment of security personnel in the venue also remained a matter of discussion during the hearing. Patel said the security personnel were deployed only to send a sense of terror among the people so that they could not oppose the JSPL’s coal block.

Rajesh Tripathi of Jan Chetana Manch, a Raigarh-based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), said the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act was in force in the Tamnaar area and the company had to take consent from the gram sabha before purchasing land from the tribals. “The company by-passed the norms,” he added.The villagers pointed out that the flow of Kelo River—considered to be the life-line of the region would also be affected if the mining operation started in the region.

They said the report had underlined that the river would flow through the mining area. The public hearing was in progress till the filing of this report. The hearing added significance as it had been organised for the second time after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) cancelled the public hearing held in January 2008 that was marred by large scale violence.

The stalemate on the coal block had put JSPL’s expansion plan on a hold.The block would feed the JSPL’s facilities located in Raigarh and Nalwa.

(Business Standard, 25 Sept 2013)

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