India Coal
Rowdy motorbike rally protests against Adani’s Gondulpara (sic) coal project
Jan 29, 2024
Adani's proposed Gondulpara coal mine has come under fire from hundreds of local citizens defending their fertile farmlands against obliteration.

In the north-central Indian state of Jharkhand, the Adani Group proposes to establish a huge coal mine that will swallow up several villages in the Gondalpura area. Adani has misnamed the project ‘Gondulpara’. The local people have opposed the project since day one, holding demonstrations and running Adani representatives out of town. In late January, these feisty citizens held a large motorbike rally as a show of strength. Referring to the extravagant pomp and ceremony surrounding Prime Minister Modi’s opening of the controversial Ayodhya temple, participants asked ‘are there no temples in Gondalpura and Balodar?’.

'People should stop taking Adani’s ‘samaan’ (gifts)', says this woman's sign in the motorbike rally against Adani's Gondulpara (sic) coal project.

Name of coal block: Gondulpara.

Owner and developer: Adani Enterprises

Coal reserves: 176 million tonnes

Proposed annual capacity: 4 million tonnes per annum

Location: Hazaribagh District, state of Jharkhand, India

Project area: Approximately 520 ha, encompassing the villages of Phulang, Hahe, Gondalpura, Balodar and Gali

Households affected: Up to 1950

On 20 January 2024, a large motorcycle rally against Adani Enterprises and its proposed ‘Gondulpara (sic)’ coal mine took place in the Hazaribagh district in the north-central Indian state of Jharkhand.

The motorbike rally against Adani's Gondulpara (sic) coal project took all day to wind its way through threatened villages and fertile farmlands.

Hundreds of protesting motorcyclists from the villages of the Barkagaon area rode through the region shouting slogans of ‘Adani Go Back!’ and ‘Adani is a thief!’, to ‘Jal, Jungle, Zameen.’ (‘Water, Forest, Land, is ours!’). The area threatened by the proposed coal mine consists of extremely fertile irrigated fields, capable of producing multiple crops per year. This produce is augmented by products from the forests, also under threat.

The rally was organised by the decades-old Karanpura Bachao Sangarsh Samiti, a local organisation that has been protesting against mining in the Karanpura valley. The ride commenced at around seven in the morning from Balodar and Galli, and went through the villages of Gondalpura, Azad Nagar, Motra, Ambajit, Mohugain, Chandaul, Bhagwan Bagi, Barkagaon Main Road, Sarhn, Pipradih, Vishrampur and the Shanichar bazaar, and to Harli, Badam, Babupara, where it ended at five thirty in the evening at Gondalpura.

The large rally choked the streets of villages threatened by Adani's coal project in the Gondalpura area.

A pamphlet was distributed which described how the villages of Phulang, Hahe, Gondalpura, Gali and Balodar will disappear and the impacts of Adani’s coal-mining project will affect the entire region due to pollution and the disappearance of water sources such as the river Badmahi, which is extremely important to a multi-cropped and prosperous region. 

A central theme of the protest was that the company and government officials have refused to heed the village-level decision making body, the Gram Sabha, which has repeatedly rejected any attempts at mining in the region, whether by Adani Enterprises or the National Thermal Power Corporation. All delegations to senior local officials and to the state’s chief minister, Hemant Soren, asking for the project to be cancelled have not stopped the company from asking for another public hearing, which is now slated for the 5 February 2024.

(Story continues below)

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The rally itself was a practice in 'horizontal politics', to strengthen local ties, as well as making a statement to those in power. Participants declared that there were no caste or religious differences between them, that many of them had relatives and distant connections to one another across villages, that everyone should come and work together, and appealed to people not to work for the company, or to fall for the company’s social-welfare programs.

Hundreds of motorbike riders from villages and farms threatened by Adani's Gondulpara (sic) coal project made their message clear.

The rally had symbolically chosen the ‘Shanichar Bazaar’, the ‘Saturday bazaar’, which is the weekly market, and a cultural tradition for the villages. Speaker after speaker sang songs, spoke about their experiences with the government, with mining struggles in the state of Jharkhand, and about the upcoming national elections in India, and about how their elected leaders have betrayed and disappointed them. They spoke about the environment and their forests, about how they’ve defeated innumerable companies who have tried to take their lands, and how no one should work with the company. They constantly invoked their collective strength as farmers.

Rally participants spoke about their farms, forests and livelihoods, building solidarity against Adani's proposed Gondulpara (sic) coal mine.

There were speakers who took aim at the proceedings around the (then) imminent Ram Mandir event in Ayodhya, which has complete state backing and patronisation.

‘I won’t say anything about what is happening in Ayodhya, or about the Ram Mandir, that is your faith. But are there no temples in Gondalpura and Balodar?’ said Ilyas Ansari, who drew loud applause from the crowd.

Apart from the independent media, there were no other reporters, and no coverage in the mainstream media.