New Essar Gag Case – an attempt to stifle voices of opposition

Greenpeace India rubbishes Essar’s allegations; insists on rights of forest communities

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Press release - April 4, 2014
April 4, 2014, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh: Greenpeace India today, rubbished Essar's ridiculous allegations of inciting villagers in the Mahan region against them. In yet another attempt to browbeat and threaten the growing voices against Essar's coal mining plans in Mahan, the company filed a case – at the district and sessions court, Waidhan in Singrauli – on Greenpeace and on members of local communities residing in Mahan to silence their voices. Greenpeace will take legal recourse to respond to these baseless allegations.

"Essar is once again trying to stifle all voices of opposition. But the allegations do not hold any water. Essar should first do a reality check before filing court cases," said Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

Essar claims to have fulfilled all the 36 conditions required for getting Stage II forest clearance. But the fact remains that the Gram Sabha resolution, which forms the basis of the clearance has been forged. This special Gram Sabha on Forest Rights Act was held in March 2013 at Amelia Village to build a consensus on the proposed mine in Mahan forest.

"There is evidence that some villagers, who have their signatures on the document, have been dead for years. There are also written testimonies of people, who say that their names have been forged in the document. The Stage II clearance is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court," said Pillai. A police complaint about the forged Gram Sabha resolution was filed in February. Community members have been trying hard to file an FIR at the local police station, but the local police authorities have refused to do so.

"We have witnessed the plight of people who have been displaced by big infrastructure and mining projects in Singrauli. It is impossible for us to leave our forests and live in 10 ft x10 ft makeshift houses. We derive our livelihood from the forests. We will be deprived of our livelihoods if the company succeeds with its mining plans. We are just being persecuted for living in harmony with nature," said Jag Narayan Shah, resident of Amelia Village, Mahan.

Earlier in January this year, Essar filed a defamation suit of Rs. 500 crore and a gag order against Greenpeace in the Bombay High Court and Greenpeace has already filed its response. The suit also laid down the condition that members of Greenpeace cannot conduct any activity within 100 meters of the company's premises in Mahalakshmi, Mumbai. This followed after 14 Greenpeace activists scaled the company's headquarters in Mumbai and unfurled a giant banner.

Greenpeace is a non-profit NGO that works towards saving the environment and fights for the rights of forest dwellers using all non-violent means. "Greenpeace works peacefully and we will continue to do so, until justice is served to the people of Mahan. We won't be deterred by these ridiculous bullying tactics," said Pillai.

For further information:

About the Mahan Coal Block: The Mahan Coal block was allocated to Mahan Coal Ltd. (a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco) in 2006. In 2012, Mahan received the Stage I clearance (in principal), which means that 36 conditions had to be fulfilled before Stage II clearance could be granted. One of the conditions was implementation of the Forest Rights Act. On February 12, 2014, Veerappa Moily-led environment ministry granted the Stage II clearance to the block.


Priya Pillai: Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India; +91 9999357766;

Avinash Chanchal: +91 8359826363;

Jagori Dhar: +91 9811200481;

Anindita Datta Choudhury: +91 9871515804;

Pari Trivedi: +91 9873495994;