On World Environment Day, a Sankalp Sammelan (aka Pledge Confluence) was organized at the protest site in the Parsa coal block, Hariharpur village, Hasdeo Aranya region of Chhattisgarh.
Sh. Sudesh Tekam of Zila Kisaan Sangh spoke, at length, about decade-long protests by locals of the Hasdeo Aranya region. They withstood immense pressure from corporate giants and state administration to continue protecting their dense biodiversity-rich forests.
They used all possible approaches to raise their voices:
– passed gram sabha resolutions under various laws
– written letters and petitions
– approached ministers and leaders
– appealed to citizens to stand for their constitutional and democratic rights
Unfortunately, the repressive Modi-Bhupesh duo continues to use all possible force and unconstitutional means to displace the Adivasi population. The entire Chhattisgarh is agitated and stands against this.
Ghatbarra Sarpanch Jaynandan Singh Porte and Salhi Sarpanch Sh. Vijay Korram narrated how the consent of their gram sabhas was forged to give clearance to Adani for the Parsa mine. No independent inquiry has been conducted to date despite repeated requests at all levels.
While addressing the event, Alok Shukla from Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, said that the government had recognized the importance of conserving the Hasdeo Aranya forests. In 2010, the central government had declared the entire region a no-go, out-of-bounds from mining – that enough coal was available from outside these rich forest regions. State government even proposed to protect the entire Hasdeo River catchment area including Parsa, Tara, and Kete Extension blocks by declaring 3,827 sq. km as Lemru Elephant Reserve to mitigate the growing human-elephant conflict in the state. Even the gram sabhas, held for this proposal, whole-heartedly supported the conservation plan. However, now the same government, under the pressure of the Adani group, is destroying these villages.
Hundreds of youth from Rajnandgaon and Bilaspur carried out a Hasdeo Bachao (Save Hasdeo) Motorbike Rally. Citizens along the route welcomed it and pledged to stand with the movement. (visuals below)
Social movements & civil society groups, environmentalists, and citizens across Chhattisgarh also participated. They said that these life-giving forests are being destroyed for corporate profits in the name of “development”. Local Adivasis who live in harmony with these forests owe their livelihood, culture, and existence to it. Instead, they are being forced into a resistance. It is the government’s constitutional responsibility to conserve the forests and protect Adivasis’ rights. Unfortunately, they have neglected it to stand as agents to the powerful corporate groups.
Pradeep Chandra, Prathmesh Mishra, Prakash Sonthaliya, and Shreyansh Budhiya from Bilaspur spoke about how the struggle to save Hasdeo is now a fight of the people of Bilaspur. The loss of Hasdeo Aranya will turn the entire Bilaspur city into a drought-prone area. Responding to CM Bhupesh Baghel’s statement, Prathmesh Mishra said that if the government decides to cancel the mines in Hasdeo Aranya, they will be happy to cut down their electricity.
Sammelan was addressed by several people, including:
Sh. C K Khande, General Secretary of Electricity People’s Union, world-renowned Rangoli artist Sh. Pramod Sahu, Ramakant Banjare of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Sh. Uday Pando of the Pando Samaaj, Sh. Shyam Murat Kaushik of Kisaan Mazdoor Mahasangh, Sh. Anil Verma of Jagruk Jan Chhattisgarh, Gandhian thinker Sh. Prathmesh Mishra, CPI(M) state general secretary Sh. Sanjay Parate, Sh. Surendra Rathour of Chhattisgarhiya Kranti Sena, Sh. Umesh Bisen of Raipur along with elected people’s representatives – Smt. Geeta, Zila Panchayat Member – Balrampur, Smt. Raymunia Kariyaam, Zila Panchayat Member – Gumga Udaypur, Sh. Bajrang Paikra, Zila Panchayat Member – Madanpur Podi Uproda, Sh. Jaynandan Porte, Sarpanch – Ghatbarra, Sh. Vijay Korram, Sarpanch – Salhi, Sh. Naval Singh Barkade, Sarpanch – Sontrai, Sh. Shreepal Porte, Sarpanch – Basen, Smt. Amrita Korram, Sarpanch-Mudgaon, Sh. Dev Saay Marpachchi, Sarpanch – Madanpur, Sh. Dhansaay, Sarpanch – Dhajaak, Sh. Ramesh, Sarpanch – Kendal, Sh. Jay Singh, Sarpanch – Khirti, Smt. Gangotri, Sarpanch – Gidhmudi, among others.