MSS prevents Essar officials from demarcating trees in Mahan's forest

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Feature story - May 5, 2014
Violating the rights of the people of Mahan, Essar's officials have been marking trees to demarcate forest areas about to get the axe. On May 5, the officials came up against members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) when they returned to the forests with their survey equipment.

05 May 2014 Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should

Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should stop this activity immediately. © Greenpeace

 

The villagers stopped the officials from starting their work following which the officials left their survey equipment behind and returned. Following this, the villagers went to Bandhaura Police Chowki to hand over the instruments. The primary demand by MSS members was for the officials to cease all such activity immediately.

This peaceful confrontation came after repeated complaints by MSS members to the District Collector and Divisional Forest Officer yielded no results. The demarcation of trees that would border the proposed coal mine by company officials has been going on for the past 3-4 months.

05 May 2014 Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should

Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should stop this activity immediately. © Greenpeace

 

Members of MSS have been protesting against the Mahan Coal Ltd's (a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco) proposed coal mine in the Mahan forests. Determined to save their forests – a source of livelihood for over 50,000 villagers from 54 villages, members of MSS began the Van Satyagraha in February this year. Since then the local resistance has been growing steadily. In August last year, company officials had started a similar marking activity, which was vehemently opposed by members of MSS.

"The employees of Essar have been sneaking into our forests, marking trees and stones. We have been removing the marks and also stopped the officials from beginning their survey work in the forest," said Vijay Singh, Member of MSS and a resident of Amelia village.

Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with Greenpeace added: "Have they got the permission to start non-forest activity? This is a violation of the rights of the people. We demand that the Divisional Forest Officer should immediately order the company authorities to stop the activity."

05 May 2014 Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should

Mahan forests in Singrauli, Essar officials have been sneaking into the forest marking trees and demarcating the forest area for felling trees. Members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) have peacefully confronted the officials and demanded that they should stop this activity immediately. © Greenpeace

 

Earlier in February this year, the Union Environment Minister, Veerappa Moily had granted Stage II forest clearance to Mahan coal block. This despite clear evidence that the special Gram Sabha resolution on Forest Rights Act – based on which, the Stage II forest clearance has been given – was forged.

Jag Narayan Shah, member of MSS filed a police complaint on the forged Gram Sabha resolution. As per media reports, the district collector, M Selvendran has gone on record saying that he will look into the case of the forged Gram Sabha. But ironically, the police have refused to file an FIR on the case. MSS members have submitted a petition to the Superintendent of Police, D. Kalyaan Chakrvarti, who said that he will take up the matter with Sub-divisional Police Officer.

With a highly questionable Stage II clearance, Essar cannot begin marking trees to be felled. It is imperative for the forest survey to come to a halt and for the grievances of villagers to be addressed.

Help protect Mahan's forests. Take action now. http://www.junglistan.org/act