India Indigenous People Coal
The long march to save Hasdeo - pictures and information
Oct 07, 2021
The 300-km, 10-day Long March to Save Hasdeo - indigenous people stand up for their ancestral lands against coal mining. Image HABSS

On 4 October, the Adivasi (indigenous) people of India's Hasdeo forests kicked off 10 days of protest against the takeover of their ancestral lands for coal mining. Their Long March to Save Hasdeo will take them over 300 km from the threatened villages to the capital of the state of Chhattisgarh, in which the Hasdeo forests occur. Along the way, they will pass through a heavily industrialised area polluted by decades of coal extraction and burning. Their defiant demonstration will culminate in Raipur where meetings with the governor and chief minister are planned. The Adani Group is one of the corporate conglomerates driving new coal mines in the richly biodiverse Hasdeo forests.

The main organising body of the march is HABSS (Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, or the Committee for the Struggle to Save the Hasdeo Forest).

Participants in the 300-km march to save the Hasdeo forests in India. Photo HABSS

The route of the 10-day Long March is as follows:

Day

Date

March begins at:

March passes through:

Program and night stop:

 

1.

 

 

 

4 October

Fatehpur village, Surjuga district, start at 11 am

Tara village, Puta, Madanpur (Korba district), Meeting at Morga at 4pm

 

Stop at Kendai village

2.

5 October

Kendai village, Korba district,

start at 8 am

Nawapara Parla, Afternoon stop at Chotiya, Lamna, Banjari Dand, Madai, Gursiya

 

Meeting and stop at Gursiya

3.

6 October

Gursiya village, Korba district,

start at 8 am

Konkona village, Afternoon stop at Podi, Uproda, Tanakhar, Katghora

Evening public meeting and night stop at Katghora town

 

4.

7 October

Katghora town, Korba district,

start at 8 am

Sutarra, Kapubahara, Potpani, Pali

Meeting and night stop at Pali, Korba district

 

5.

8 October

Pali village,

Korba district.

start at 8 am

Budbud, Podi Parsada, Bilaspur district

Meeting and night stop at Ratanpur, Bilaspur district

 

6.

9 October

Ratanpur town, Bilaspur district,

start at 8 am

Gatori, Bilaspur

Public meeting and night stop at Bilaspur city

 

7.

10 October

Bilaspur city

start at 8 am

Bodri, Bilha Mod, Nagpur village, Sargaon

Night stop at Sargaon village, Mungeli district

 

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8.

11 October

Sargaon village, Mungeli district, start at 8 am

Chandrakhuri, Pathariya, Temri, Sajri, Navagadh, Darchura Damakheda

 

Night stop at Damakheda, Bhatapara district, Balodabazar

9.

12 October

Damakheda village, start at 8 am

Chanderi ban sankra, Simga, Bhumiya, Tarpongi, Devri, Dharsiva, Raipur district

 

Meeting and night stop at Dharsiva, Raipur district

10.

13 October

Dharsiva, Rapur district, start at 10 am

 

Dharsiva, Siltara, Enter Raipur

Night stop at Raipur

11.

14 October

Mass gathering at Raipur – meet the Chief Minister and the Governor

 

Participants in the 300-km march to save the Hasdeo forests in India. Photo Twitter / @SaveHasdeoSignificant events:

Large gatherings for public meetings are planned to take place at Katghora, Bilaspur and Raipur, the three cities/towns that the march will pass through, as locals in those cities will receive the march and join them in raising demands to the state government.

Noteworthy points about the locations:

In the first days of the march, the Adivasi passed by the waters of the Hasdeo River, a key watercourse and catchment of the region.

Passing the Hasdeo River. Image Twitter / @SaveHasdeo

The stretch between Katghora and Bilaspur in Korba district (days 4-6) is a heavily industrialised and highly polluted zone. The Korba coal field has been mined for decades, with three large open-cast mines located in the district.

The Gevra Open Cast Mine, operated by the government owned South Eastern Coalfields Limited is the largest open-cast coal mine in India and Asia, and the second largest in the world with a capacity of 35 million tonnes per annum. The district also has the Dipka Open Cast Mine (annual capacity of 25 million tonnes) and the Kusmunda Open Cast Mine (annual capacity of 10 million tonnes).

There are also several coal-based thermal power stations in the area that consume the coal mined in the district – the 2600 MW Korba Super Thermal Power Plant operated by the National Thermal Power Corporation, and three power plants operated by the Chhattisgarh State Power Generation Company – Korba East Thermal Power Station (440 MW), Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Thermal Power Station (Korba East) of 500 MW, and the Hasdeo Thermal Power Station (Korba West) of 840 MW. The Vedanta owned BALCO (formerly Bharat Aluminium Company) operates in Korba district an aluminium smelting plant of capacity 570,000 tpa and a captive thermal power station of 270 MW that supplies the plant. The district offers a picture of the fate of the Hasdeo forest if mining operations at the numerous coal blocks in the Hasdeo coal field were to commence.

Bilaspur city is Chhattisgarh’s second largest city after the capital Raipur and the Chhattisgarh High Court is located there.

As well as the PEKB coal mine in the Hasdeo forests, the Adani Group runs two coal-power stations in the state of Chhattisgarh.

Edited Media Releases by HABSS

Media Release – 4 October

The “Long March to Save Hasdeo” started today after paying respects to the martyred farmers of Lakhimpur Kheri

Today on 4 October 2021, the Long March to Save Hasdeo started in the Hasdeo forest region to save our land, water and forests. The long march will cover 300 kilometers on foot over 11 days, to arrive at Raipur on 13 October. Residents of Ghatbarra, Fatehpur, Salhi, Hariharpur and several other villages of the Surguja district marched first to Madanpur villages. It is at this same historic Madanpur that in 2015, Rahul Gandhi while addressing the Gram Sabhas of the Hasdeo forest had committed to protect the land, water and forests of the residents of the Hasdeo forest and had committed his support to their struggle.

Today, the village residents gathered at that very same spot in Madanpur to first pay their respects to the farmer protestors martyred in Uttar Pradesh and to declare their struggle against the Modi government’s corporatist leaders. Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti declared its solidarity with the nation’s farmers and called for the three anti-farmer agricultural laws be repealed immediately.

Umeshwar Singh Amro, Hasdeo Bachao Sangharsh Samiti president, addressing the marchers at Madanpur, said that it is unfortunate that despite the party that is in power calling itself the saviour of Adivasis’ interests, and an upholder constitutional rights and democratic values, the people have been forced to organise this march to protect their rights. The Chhattisgarh government has proved itself to be complicit in the Modi government’s efforts to hand over natural resources to the Adani Group.

The long march reiterated the following demands today:

* All plans for coal mining in the Hasdeo forest region must be cancelled.

* All land acquisition conducted under the Coal Bearing Areas Act 1957, without the consent of gram sabhas in the Hasdeo forest region must be cancelled and the land returned.

* The constitutional requirement that land acquisition in 5th Schedule areas under any act must be done with the consent of the gram sabhas must be implemented.

* The process by which forest clearance was granted to the Parsa coal block must be investigated, and an FIR filed against the company and the government authorities involved in the process.

* Restore the cancelled community forest resource rights recognition granted to the gram sabha of Ghatbarra village and recognise the community forest resource rights and individual forest resource rights of all the villages in the Hasdeo forest region.

* The stipulations of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996 must be respected.

Siddharth Singh Deo of Udaipur, Zilla Panchayat (District Council) member Rajnath Singh, former Deputy Chairman of Udaipur Janpad Panchayat (Block Council) Rajen Singh, Kumar Girish of Koriya, Jangsai Payo of Ganrajya village, Sudesh Tikam of Rajnandgaon District Famers Union, Ramakant Banjare, Prashant of Chhattisgarh Kisan Sabha, Deepak Sahu and all the Sarpanches (heads of gram panchayats or village councils) and Janpad Panchayat members of the Hasdeo forest region were present at Madanpur in support of the long march.

It was decided that the long march will reach Raipur and present its demands to the Governor and to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. The long march will reach Kendai tonight and stop there for the night.

The rally at Fatehpur proceeded despite attempts by pro-coal hecklers to disrupt proceedings. Image Twitter @SaveHasdeo

Press Release - 5 October

The Long March to Save Hasdeo that started on 4 October today reached the Gursiya village in Korba district.

Residents and elected representatives of multiple villages along the way welcomed the long march and displayed their solidarity and unity with the residents of the Hasdeo forest.

Despite the opposition of the gram sabhas (village assemblies) of the Hasdeo forest region, the government is proceeding with its plans to open 5 coal blocks for mining in the 5th Schedule area of the Hasdeo forest. The procedures adopted for land acquisition and forest approvals have violated the Forest Rights Act violated. The Long March opposes these violations and aims to to save the catchment area of the Hasdeo river, today in its second day arrived at Gursiya in Korba district. This long march will cover 300 kilometers over 10 days to reach Raipur. 

It is worth mentioning that Jyotsna Charandas Mahant MP, the elected representative from Korba has announced her support for the Long March to save Hasdeo.

Starting at Kendai, today the long march passed through Parla, Chotiya and Madai, where village residents, block council members and village council members welcomed the marchers and expressed their solidarity with the struggle. In particular, block council members Komal Singh, Deepak Uday, Madan Singh Maravi, Ravindra Thakur, and village council chairpersons  Santoshi Man Singh Markam, Babu Lal, Dileshwar Ayam and deputy village council chairpersons Rajendra, Ramayan Das, Gore Lal and others were present and expressed their support and solidarity.

Umeshwar Singh Amro, Hasdeo Bachao Sangharsh Samiti president said that it is unfortunate that despite the party that is in power calling itself the saviour of Adivasis’ interests, and an upholder constitutional rights and democratic values, the people have been forced to organise this march to protect their rights. The Chhattisgarh government has proved itself to be complicit in the Modi government’s efforts to hand over natural resources to the Adani group.

The long march reiterated the following demands today:

* All plans for coal mining in the Hasdeo forest region must be cancelled.

* All land acquisition conducted under the Coal Bearing Areas Act 1957, without the consent of gram sabhas in the Hasdeo forest region must be cancelled and the land returned.

* The constitutional requirement that land acquisition in 5th Schedule areas under any act must be done with the consent of the gram sabhas must be implemented.

* The fraudulent process by which forest clearance was granted to the Parsa coal block must be investigated, and an FIR filed against the company and the government authorities involved in the process.

* Restore the cancelled community forest resource rights recognition granted to the gram sabha of Ghatbarra village and recognise the community forest resource rights and individual forest resource rights of all the villages in the Hasdeo forest region.

* The stipulations of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996 must be respected.

Marching despite stormy conditions to save the Hasdeo forests from coal mining. Image Twitter / @SaveHasdeo