Bhopal, 14 August 2013: On the eve of Independence Day, the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Ram Naresh Yadav refused to listen to the appeal made by the tribal people from Mahan for protection of their rights. Seven representatives from the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) met the Governor at Raj Bhavan to apprise him about the grave violations of Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Mahan forests in Singrauli.The Governor who is the custodian of tribal rights in a state, was indifferent to the issues of non implementation of the FRA as well as forgery during the gram sabha that were raised by MSS during this meeting. Kanti Singh Khairwar who was a part of the MSS delegation was shocked and saddened by the way the Governor dismissed their rights.
“This is the first time I left my home and traveled so far to meet the Governor but I cannot recover from the shock that the Governor refused to look at our memorandum and the Gram Sabha of resolution where our signatures were forged. If the first citizen of state refuses to even to listen to us, then who will protect our rights? We have no option but to pursue our case legally and keep our fight on”.
Greenpeace campaigner, Priya Pillai, who accompanied the MSS members to the Raj Bhavan expressed her disappointment after meeting the Governor. “The way the Governor flung the memorandum at the face of the people shows his scant regard for the constitutional rights of tribal people.
Mahan Sangharsh Samiti is not deterred by this instead we are strengthened in our determination to save Mahan and its people’s rights”, Pillai said.
About Mahan Sangharsh Samiti
There are 62 villages dependent on the Mahan forests of Singrauli. Community members from eleven villages in the Mahan forests have organised themselves under the banner of MSS to assert their forest rights and have been opposing the proposed mine of Mahan Coal ltd (a joint venture of Essar and Hindalco). The Mahan coal block was initially rejected by former Environment minister Mr Jairam Ramesh. However, it was granted in-principal (Stage I) approval by the MoEF on October 18, 2012, after substantial pressure from the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Coal Mining. This approval came with 36 conditions, which require a range of studies to be completed and the processes under the Forest Rights Act to be complied with.
Granting forest clearance to the mine will destroy the livelihoods of 14,190 people, out of which 5,650 are from tribal communities as per the 2001 census. Stage II clearance to Mahan coal block would mean opening doors for other coal blocks like Chatrasal awaiting approvals in the Mahan forests, which will further fragment the entire forests in the region.
For further information contact
Priya Pillai, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India: 09999357766,
Avinash Kumar Chanchal, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: 08359826363,
Jagori Dhar, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India: 09811200481,
Anindita Datta Choudhury, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India: 09871515804,