The Narendra Modi led Union Government led initiated to auction 41 coal blocks for commercial mining on 18th June 2020. Out of 41 coal blocks, 8 blocks are in the state of Chattisgarh. Rest come under the states of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
The coal mine workers had called for a 3-day strike from July 2nd to July 4th, 2020 demanding the reversal of the decision to allow 100% FDI in the coal mining sector.
More than 25 organisations working on the issue of agriculture, land, and forest rights also joined with the nationwide struggle in Chattisgarh.
Many in Chattisgarh gathered at MGNREGA centers, fields, and some from their homes to protest against the auction of coal blocks to corporates and the disinvestment and privatisation of Coal India.
Protesters said they will give up their lives but will not be displaced from their homes and will not let corporates take over their land and forest.
According to farmer organisations, protests happened in more than 25 districts of Chattisgarh like Rajnandgaon, Mahasamund, Dhamtari, Gariaband, Korba, Champa, Marwahi, Sarguja, Bastar and Balrampur. In Adivasi areas, protests happened in many interior areas.
According to Chattisgarh Kisan sabha state President Sanjay Parate, these protest demonstrations are led by Chattisgarh Kisan sabha, Adivasi Ekta Mahasabha, Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Rajnandgaon Zila Kisan Sangh, Dalit Kisan Adivasi Manch, Krantikari Kisan sabha, Janjati Adhikar Manch, Chag Kisan Mahasabha, and Chag mazdoor-Kisan Maha Sangh. The organisations have come together to protest against the displacement of Adivasi, environmental damage, and for the protection of biodiversity and wildlife of the region. These organisations joined in solidarity with the demands of the coal miners and in the struggle to protect Adivasi life.
In Surajpur and Korba coal mines, the protests were organised with workers from coal fields and trade unions. All these organisations are also demanding from the state government that like Jharkhand, the Chattisgarh government should also challenge this decision in the supreme court because this central government decision is against state rights, constitution, and against the federal structure of the country.
In a press release, the organisations have talked about how till now 2 crore Adivasis have been displaced int he name of development projects. Globalisation which is a policy to acquire natural resources has only hastened the displacement process. For almost 10 crore framers and Adivasi, the income from the sale of forest produce make up 40% of their income. Without any concern of their livelihood, only for corporate profit, coal mining is pushing Adivasis towards devastation, because private companies don’t even follow the terms of rehabilitation and compensation. Displacement has destroyed the socio-economic, cultural-spiritual, and traditional rights of Adivasi communities. The press release stated that in Korba itself from 2004-2014 due to coal mining, the land was acquired from 23254 people but only 2479 people got jobs or some kind of compensation.
Accusing the Modi government, the orgnisations spokesperson said that Modi government is hell-bent on destroying the public sector, and to with it is with this mal intention they are defaming the Coal India and to dismissing its achievements that gives jobs to around 4 lakh workers.
According to reports, Coal India has not only contributed 53236 crores in the form of revenue, royalty, cess, and taxes but has made a profit of 17462 crores. Chattisgarh government has got 4320 crores through these coal mines. Despite this, the central government is weakening the coal India by withdrawing 64000 crores from this reserve fund which is equivalent to the profits earned in the last 4 years. By crippling the enterprise economically, the government is now questioning the capability of Coal India.
The leaders of farmer organisations said the decision to remove 4 blocks located in Hasdeo Aranya from the auctioning list by the central government is an early victory. This also proves that the decision to sell off the invaluable and nonrenewable natural resources was taken for corporate profit and not keeping the interest of Adivasi way of life and the environmental issues in mind. This decision is equivalent to the sale of the country.
The farmer leaders of Chattisgarh have demanded that auction of all coal blocks, coal mining for export, and privatisation of the mines be stopped.