Coal India Indigenous People
The forgotten people in Adani's agenda of coal exploitation in India - a list of community conflicts
Feb 02, 2023
Adivasi (indigenous tribal) people protest against destruction of the Hasdeo forests by Adani-driven coal mines in Chhattisgarh, India. Image Vijay Ramamurthy

The Adani Group's colossal agenda for exploiting coal has created community backlash across the length and breadth of India. Indigenous people, traditional land-users and fishing communities have bravely tackled Adani's plans in order to defend their livelihoods and way of life. They have protested on land and at sea; in villages and in cities; on the streets and in the forests. This compilation gives details on 14 epicentres of conflict that have arisen from Adani's exploitation of coal in India.

Here is a link to the PDF:

https://bobbrown.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/2023_June_AdaniWatch_CoalConflictsIndia_DIGITAL-1.pdf

 

1. COAL MINES

 

The Parsa Kente coal projects in the Hasdeo forests (Chhattisgarh)

Adivasi (indigenous tribal) women block tree-cutting operations for the proposed expansion of the Adani-operated PEKB coal mine, Chhattisgarh, India.

For each of the Parsa Kente coal projects, Adani is the Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) on behalf of a Rajasthan power company that owns the mining leases. The projects threaten the biodiverse Hasdeo forests, home to elephants that become vulnerable and dangerous when their habitat is fragmented.

Adivasi (indigenous tribal) people rally before marching over 300 km to the state capital in October 2021 to protest at proposed coal mines in the Hasdeo forests, Chhattisgarh, India.

Protests to defend their lands, livelihoods and culture by Adivasi (indigenous tribal people) have been occurring for many years and include a 300-km march from the forests to the state capital in October 2021. The conflict has led to splits within the state government and between the state and national government. The one operating mine, the PEKB coal mine, has overcome all obstacles despite community opposition. In 2022, the community mounted peaceful direct-action protests against works to expand the PEKB mine. In June 2022, the state government said that works are ‘on hold’, but subsequently tree-felling resumed for the PEKB extension.

Status: 1 operating mine, 2 under development

Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd., Parsa Kente Collieries Ltd.

Community organisations: Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (HABSS) – the Save Hasdeo Forest Committee; spokesperson Jainandan Singh Porte. Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan; spokesperson Alok Shukla.

Media stories:

The New Yorker November 2022 

New York Times October 2022

AdaniWatch March 2022

AdaniWatch November 2021

AdaniWatch November 2021

AdaniWatch October 2021

AdaniWatch June 2020

Guardian Australia March 2020

And many more.

 

Gare Pelma II coal mine (Chhattisgarh)

Adivasi protesters march against new coal mines in Chhattisgarh.

For the three Gare Pelma coal projects, Adani is the MDO. In June 2019, over 100 villagers protested at a meeting initiated by Adani, saying that 13 villages could be destroyed. Further protests occurred in October 2019. Reports have found that people inhabiting this region of densely packed coal mines and coal-power stations suffer serious illnesses.

Status: 1 operating mine, 2 under development

Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd

Community organisations: Mehnatkash Majdoor Kisan Ekta Samiti, spokesperson Rajesh Tripathi

Media stories:

AdaniWatch May 2021

ET Energyworld June 2019

 

Talabira II and III coal blocks (Odisha)

 

Adivasi (tribal) inhabitants of the Talabira area in the threatened forests on which they depend.

For the Talabira II and III coal projects, Adani is the MDO. Facing displacement are 1894 families from six villages. Some say their consent to mining was forged. Forests that have provided sustenance were destroyed in 2019, leading to civil disobedience. On 8 March 2022, 13 men were arrested for resisting dumping of overburden. Talabira I is disused but its waste degrades adjacent farms, leading to a community petition to the National Green Tribunal and a fine against the Adani company concerned.

Status: Talabira I mine now disused; Talabira II and III coal blocks under development

Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd; Adani subsidiaries Raipur Energen Limited and Talabira (Odisha) Mining Private Limited (TOMPL)

Community groups: Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air – Director Nandikesh Sivalingam; Dilip Sahu, a social activist; Hemanta Rout, local freelance journalist

Media stories:

Al Jazeera June 2022

AdaniWatch July 2022

AdaniWatch May 2022

AdaniWatch April 2022

AdaniWatch January 2022

 

Gondulpara / Gondalpura coal block (Jharkhand)

Residents of one of the villages threatened by Adani's Gondulpara (sic) mine protest in defence of their lands and livelihoods.

The misnamed Gondulpara coal block was ‘acquired’ by Adani Enterprises in November 2020. People from at least five affected villages in the Gondalpura area have resisted Adani’s attempts to commence preparatory works and acquire their land, angrily confronting officials. India’s peak body has called for the Gondalpura / Gondulpara coal project to be scrapped. Villagers have so far out-manoeuvred Adani and the state in their attempts to hold the meetings necessary for the approvals process.

Status: Under development

Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd

Community groups: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

Media stories:

Times of India October 2022

AdaniWatch November 2022

CounterCurrents March 2022

AdaniWatch January 2022

Le Monde November 2021

AdaniWatch October 2021

AdaniWatch September 2021

(List of conflicts continues below)

More stories See all
The harsh life at the coal face of Adani’s Talabira mine
‘We are from Dharavi’ has become a battle cry
Defiance: how tribal forest people have taken on the might of Adani's coal juggernaut
Were India’s stocks manipulated before election results?
‘They should not believe in the promised land that the Adani company tempts them with.’

2. COAL-POWER STATIONS

 

Udupi (Karnataka) coal-power station

Smoke from Adani's Udupi power station, Karnataka, India.

Establishment of the Udupi coal-power plant (by another company) was opposed by local people because of the area’s great fertility. Adani acquired the plant in 2015. In May 2022, India’s primary environmental court fined the Adani company over US $6 million for environmental violations. Adani has since appealed this verdict. Local people have attributed a reduction in crop yields and an increased incidence in respiratory-tract diseases to pollution from the plant; a survey indicates that over 90% of those surveyed oppose a planned expansion of the Udupi power plant.

Status: Operational 2 x 600 MW (a proposal to expand has yet to be approved)

Adani companies: Adani Power Ltd and subsidiary Udupi Power Corporation Limited.

Community group: Janajagriti Samithi.

Media stories:

AdaniWatch October 2022

AdaniWatch July 2022

The Hindu June 2022

NewsClick March 2019

 

Mundra (Gujarat) coal-power station

Traditional indigenous inhabitants of fishing communities traversing the coastline damaged by Adani's coal-power plants at Mundra, Gujarat, India.

Adani’s Mundra coal-power plants and those of Tata in the same precinct constitute one of India’s biggest cluster of power plants. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India DATE says that the plants illegally disposed of fly ash from the plants, causing local pollution.

Representatives of farming and fishing communities have blamed local health problems and reduction in the productivity of their industries on the coal-power plants (including those of nearby Tata). A 2012-13 fact-finding mission reported that the area’s industrialisation had contributed to local alcoholism, domestic violence, respiratory-tract illnesses, diseases and miscarriages amongst livestock and losses of income. Industries adversely affected included agriculture, salt production and fishing. Adani was directed by government to restore creeks and mangroves and to provide restitution to communities, a decision controversially overturned by the newly-elected BJP government in 2015.

Status: Operational 4620 MW

Adani company: Adani Power Ltd

Community group: National Fishworkers’ Forum.

Media stories:

AdaniWatch November 2022

AdaniWatch September 2020

Scroll.In March 2018

Sydney Morning Herald November 2017

Economic Times July 2014

Business Standard October 2013

The Mint April 2013

Down to Earth 2013

 

Godda (Jharkhand) coal-power station

Adivasi (indigenous tribal) farmers survey construction of the Godda coal-power plant, February 2020. Image Geoff Law

Adani and government authorities have been accused of dirty tricks and coercion in the process of acquiring Adivasi people’s farmlands for the Godda coal-power project. A community leader was jailed at the height of the protests in 2016; some protest leaders have subsequently died, apparently due to the stress of their situation. A case against the project in the state’s High Court has yet to be resolved. The project has its own ‘special economic zone’ and is believed to be the ultimate destination for coal from Adani’s notorious Carmichael mine in Australia. The power plants also involves a pipeline to exploit the waters of the Ganges River. Bangladesh is the intended market for power from Godda, a move criticised by energy analysts. At a convention in June 2022, opponents of the project discussed means of strengthening the campaign against it.

Status: 2 x 800 MW under development and partially complete, with trial generation of power having occurred

Adani companies: Adani Power Ltd and subsidiary Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd

Community groups: National Alliance for People’s Movements; Indian Social Action Forum

An Adivasi (indigenous tribal) farmer at the graves of family members - over the fence, Adani's giant Godda coal-power plant takes shape, February 2020. Image Geoff Law

Media stories:

Washington Post Dec 2022

The Times of India September 2022

BankTrack August 2022

AdaniWatch July 2022

AdaniWatch July 12 2022

ABC News July 2020

AdaniWatch July 2020

AdaniWatch April 2020

AdaniWatch March 2020

New York Times 2019

 

Pench / Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh) coal-power proposal

Local people march against Adani's proposed Pench coal-power plant, 2011.

The Pench coal-power project near Chhindwara has been the subject of bitter conflict since 2010, when Adani acquired it. Leaders of the protests against the project have been brutally bashed, allegedly by people employed by the Adani company involved, one of whom has been prosecuted in a case that has dragged on. Farmers deprived of land for the project say they are starving and will battle the project in the courts. The business case for the project has been questioned. In 2021, desperate farmers reoccupied and cultivated land on the Pench project site. The legality of land acquisition for the Pench power project has been questioned.

Status: 2 x 660 MW ‘under development’ (though very little on-the-ground work has occurred)

Adani companies: Adani Power Ltd and subsidiary Adani Pench Power Limited

Community groups: Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS, or Farmers’ Struggle Committee); Madhya Pradesh unit of Jan Sangarsh Morcha (Organisation for People’s Struggle)

Community leaders injured by pro-Adani goons march against Adani's proposed Pench coal-power station.

Media stories:

AdaniWatch May 2022

AdaniWatch July again 2021

AdaniWatch July 2021

AdaniWatch August 2020

 

3. PORT DEVELOPMENTS INVOLVING COAL

 

Kattupalli port expansion (Tamil Nadu)

Protesters oppose Adani's proposal to massively expand the Kattupalli port near Chennai.

Adani proposes to expand its Kattupalli port from around 25 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 320 million mtpa. According to the Global Energy Monitor, this will include 71 mtpa for coal. Community groups in and around Chennai say that the project will have significant adverse impacts on coastal wetlands, dunes and Pulicat Lake, a vital fishery and buffer against the open ocean. They say dredging and breakwaters will degrade marine ecology and fish resources and jeopardise the very existence of the lake, with impacts on a densely populated region and its water supplies. Significant community resistance to Adani’s project has been expressed at many levels of Tamil Nadu society, including MPs and retired senior civil servants, and through large-scale protests. Chief Minister Stalin has been under pressure from village leaders to implement his election promise to scrap Adani’s port project.

Status: On hold due to state-government policy

Adani companies: Adani Ports and SEZ; subsidiary Marine Infrastructure Development and Private Limited

Community groups: Save Pulicat Campaign; Save Ennore Creek; Coastal Resource Centre; a frequent spokesperson for the campaign is Nityanand Jayaraman

Media stories:

The Story of Ennore

AdaniWatch October 2019

AdaniWatch September 2021

The NewsMinute September 2021

AdaniWatch August 2021

AdaniWatch January 2021

AdaniWatch September 2020

Hakai magazine June 2020

The New India Express October 2019

 

Mundra port (Gujarat)

Members of a fishing community in the Mundra area voice their concerns about the port's impacts on marine ecology and fish stocks.

The Mundra port is described by Adani and Global Energy Monitor as the ‘largest coal import terminal’ with ‘separate sidings’ for cargo such as coal. A 2012-13 fact-finding mission documented environmental impacts, including measurements of water temperatures, pH, dissolved oxygen (all critically important for marine life), damage to mangroves and creeks, increases in particulates, noise levels in adjacent villages, and a drastic reduction in fish catch. Some reports have said that Adani’s developments have pushed the high-tide level over 10 km seaward, with a corresponding loss of the inter-tidal ecosystem. Representatives of local fishing communities have complained of reduced catch, obstruction of village activities, and the necessity to travel longer distances to catch fish. In 2015, a leader of the elected village government of Navinal, Mr Gajendrasinh Bhimaji Jadeja, and a leader of local protests, was detained on flimsy charges and later freed by order of the Gujarat High Court. It was alleged that he was detained at the behest of the Adani Group.

Status: Operational; proposal to expand

Adani companies: Adani Ports and SEZ

Community groups: South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis (spokesperson Soumya Dutta)

Media stories:

AdaniWatch November 2022

AdaniWatch August 2021

AdaniWatch September 2020

Scroll.In March 2018

Sydney Morning Herald November 2017

Economic Times July 2014

Business Standard October 2013

The Mint April 2013

 

Mormugao (Goa)

A cartoonist's take on the conflict concerning new coal infrastructure in and around the port of Goa.

According to Adani, Mormugao is a ‘fully mechanised coal-handling facility’. Adani has been targeted by protest groups opposing expansion of infrastructure in Goa for more coal but has denied having a role in such developments.

Status: Operational

Adani companies: Adani Ports and SEZ

Media stories:

Al Jazeera April 2021

AdaniWatch November 2020

BBC News October 2020

 

Hazira port (Gujarat)

According to Adani, the Hazira port (whose capacity for all cargoes is projected at 75 mtpa) can handle ‘huge volumes of coal cargo’. In 2016, Adani’s environmental approval at Hazira port was revoked following a petition to the National Green Tribunal by the Hazira Fishermen Committee, which argued that ecological impacts had damaged their industry and that members of fishing communities had been displaced. This was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Status: Operational

Adani companies: Adani Ports and SEZ

Community groups: Hazira Fishermen Committee

Media stories:

The Hindu January 2016

 

4. OTHER INFASTRUCTURE FOR COAL DEVELOPMENTS

 

Sundergarh railway expansion (Odisha)

A protesting Adivasi woman receives rough treatment at the hands of police in a protest against a railway expansion to facilitate transport of Adani's coal from Dhamra to Godda.

On 28 March 2022, over 200 protesters from a tribal group were arrested near Sundergarh protesting against a railway expansion that will displace many of them. Several leaders faced fabricated charges that enabled police to prolong their incarceration without bail. The rail expansion will facilitate transport of coal from Adani’s Dhamra port to its Godda coal-power station. Photos show rough treatment of protesters. A protest leader said he was informed by an insider that there was ‘tremendous pressure’ from the highest levels of the state government to ‘complete the railway expansion and snuff out any protest’ because the railway was required for Adani’s coal.

Status: Expansion carried out by South Eastern Railway

Adani companies: Adani Power

Community groups: Bondamunda Anchalik Surakshya Samiti (Committee to protect the region of Bondamunda), spokesperson Deme Oram,

Media stories:

AdaniWatch July 2022

AdaniWatch June 2022

AdaniWatch April 2022

NewsClick September 2020

 

High-voltage transmission line, Dadantola (West Bengal)

Police with shields and batons move in on protesting orchardists defending their fruit trees from an Adani transmission line, July 2022.

The high-voltage transmission line will take power from Godda power station (Jharkhand) to Bangladesh. In July 2022, police in the state of West Bengal assaulted orchardists protesting against the destruction of their mango and lychee trees near Dadantola village for the transmission line. Injuries were sustained by at least eight orchardists. Community leaders have alleged murder plots against them, as well as fabricated charges by the police. On 31 January 2023, a public-interest litigation was filed in the Kolkata High Court against the construction of the transmission line.

Status: Under construction

Adani companies: Adani Power and Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd

Community groups: Bagicha, Jibika o Bosti Rokkha (Committee to Protect Orchards, Livelihoods and Settlements); Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (United Farmers Front)

Media stories:

The Business Standard January 2023

AdaniWatch July 2022

 

More generalised criticisms of the Adani coal agenda include:

  • Indigenous leaders criticise India’s government of Narendra Modi at the COP26 summit in Glasgow for the ‘coal rush’ in the lands of indigenous peoples.
  • Adani Power is third highest on Oxfam’s ranking of billionaire enterprises that cause carbon pollution. Adding Gautam Adani’s other coal enterprises make him one of the world’s biggest contributors to global greenhouse emissions.