MAC: Mines and Communities

Coal Mining And Violations Of Adivasi Rights In India

Published by MAC on 2016-07-26
Source: Press Trust of India, First Post, Statement (2016-07-14)

"When Land is Lost, do we eat Coal?"

This new report examines how land acquisition and mining in three mines in three different states run by three different Coal India Limited subsidiaries have breached Indian domestic laws, and India’s obligations under international human rights law with regard to local indigenous (Adivasi) people.

The report can be downloaded from: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa20/4391/2016/en/

Human right violations at mines run by Coal India: Amnesty

Press Trust of India

13 July 2016

New Delhi - Human rights group Amnesty International has claimed that "abusive laws and the poor enforcement of safeguards" at coal mines is leading tribal communities to oppose expansion of these blocks.

The NGO in a report on mining of dry fuel and violations of tribal rights has alleged that the Centre and the states "don't seem to care to speak or listen to the vulnerable Adivasi communities whose lands are acquired and forest is destroyed for coal mining".

"Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations," Amnesty International Executive Director Aakar Patel said.

Though, government plans to double coal output by 2020 and Coal India (CIL) wants to mine a billion tonnes annually, yet the Centre and the states do not seem to talk to or to listen to tribals living in coal mining areas, he added.

CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic coal production, is eying an output of 598 MT this fiscal. It is targeting an output of one billion tonnes by 2020.

When contacted, the Coal Ministry said: "We strongly object to the baseless canards being spread, which are part of a conspiracy to derail the development and progress of India and efforts to provide livelihood for people deprived of fruits of development for nearly seven decades after independence."

It is always easy to provide few stray cases and exaggerate the findings instead of looking at the structural reforms which are sustainably improving the lives of 125 crore Indians, it added.

"India constitutes 17 per cent of the world's population and is contributing less than 2.5 per cent of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. In fact our coal consumption today is less than what the Western countries were consuming 150 years ago," the Ministry said.

The report claims to expose a "pattern of human rights violations" in open cast mines run by CIL subsidiaries -- South Eastern Coalfields Ltd's (SECL) Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Ltd's (CCL) Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd's (MCL) Basundhara- West mine in Odisha.

The report is based interviews with 124 affected tribals across three mining areas; village, district and state officials from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha; state forest and pollution control boards; and local journalists, activists and lawyers.

It also includes interviews with the representatives of CIL subsidiaries -- SECL, MCL and CCL.

Former Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said: "Mineral reserves are not the property of any government. Development that does not include the Adivasi and that leaves out the poorest of the poor is not development, but exploitation.
On claims of neglecting development in mining areas, Coal

Ministry said: "Under Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana, the government has dedicated funds for the welfare of local people in mining areas which will generate USD 1 billion annually to support clean water, healthcare, sanitation, education, skill development, women and child care."

The scheme will also focus on the welfare of aged and disabled people, skill development, environment conservation and sustainable livelihoods. This is an unprecedented step for which no country in the world has ever provided such large sums of money, it added.

"Also India is the only country in the world to levy USD 6 per tonne of environment cess on every tonne of coal, which provides funds for supporting clean energy and clean water programmes," the ministry said.

It is to be noted that India has embarked on the world's largest renewable energy programme, a strong message reflecting the commitment of Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to balance development imperatives with concern for the environment, the Coal Ministry said.

The main findings of the Amnesty International's report were shared with relevant state authorities and companies, but no response was received.

In the three Coal India mines examined, THE Centre acquired land without directly informing the affected families, or consulting them about their rehabilitation and resettlement, the report claimed.

"Frequently, the only official notice given was a declaration of the government's 'intention to acquire' land in an official government gazette, which is virtually impossible to access for affected communities," it further alleged.

Land acquisition for CIL mines is carried out under Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) (CBA) Act, which does not require authorities to consult affected communities, or seek prior and informed consent of Indigenous people, as stipulated by international law, it said.

A new land acquisition law enacted in 2014 specifically exempts acquisition under the CBA Act from seeking the consent of affected families or carrying out social impact assessments, it added.

"CBA Act undermines communities' security of tenure. Any eviction resulting from acquisition under the Act is likely to amount to a forced eviction, which is prohibited under international law," Senior Researcher at Amnesty International India Aruna Chandrasekhar said.

India's environmental laws require state pollution control authorities to set up public consultations with local communities likely to be affected by industrial projects. However public consultations conduced in the three mining areas suffered from serious flaws, the report revealed.

"In these three mines, authorities and companies appear to have seen public hearings more as a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome than a genuine opportunity to hear and address community concerns," Chandrasekhar said.
"CIL knowingly benefited from land acquisition processes

that violated the human rights of thousands of people," Chandrasekhar said adding "it cannot point to the failure of the government as a defence for its own failure to respect the rights of communities."

Under global standards on business and human rights, CIL and its subsidiaries have a responsibility to respect human rights, including by carrying out due diligence to ensure that government agencies had conducted proper consultation with regard to coal mining operations, Amnesty said.

This responsibility exists over and above compliance with national laws, it added.

However the companies appeared to have taken little or no action to either consult communities themselves or to ensure that government consultations were adequate and met human rights standards, it claimed.

Often, the companies and government authorities worked together to remove people from land identified for coal mining, the organisation alleged.

"Human rights violations that seem to accompany mining by CIL call into question the central government's promises of inclusive development, with far-reaching impacts in the future," Patel said.

CIL must urgently address the human rights impacts of the expansion of the Kusmunda, Tetariakhar and Basundhara-West mines, in full consultation with project-affected communities. It should ensure that these expansions do not go ahead until existing human rights concerns are resolved, Amnesty said.

The Centre must ensure that any land acquisition for coal mining involves human rights impact assessments and the seeking of the free prior and informed consent of Adivasi communities, it added.

"Coal mining is described as being integral to India's economic progress. But development is hollow without dialogue and respect for human rights," Amnesty International said.


Coal mining is exploitative: Amnesty report shows Adivasi communities are suffering

Debobrat Ghose

http://www.firstpost.com/india/coal-mining-is-exploitative-amnesty-report-shows-adivasi-communities-are-suffering-2893170.html

14 July 2016

Nirupabai, a Kawar Adivasi woman from Barkuta village in Korba district of Chhattisgarh, had a harrowing time when her house was demolished in 2014, by South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) in order to expand their coal mines, without adequate notice. Without being compensated, she had to rebuild her house from the rubble. She ran from pillar to post, but it didn’t help her in getting any justice.

“But prior to this, in 1996 my father had to part ways with the land we had, as Coal India Limited acquired it. Despite promising a job, the company didn’t give any job to us for our livelihood. After that my father died, leaving behind my old mother, who’s 85 now and my mentally challenged brother. After fighting almost for 20 years, out of 150 affected families, only 60 got jobs. And, I have been left out,” Nirupabai lamented while speaking to Firstpost.

Nirupabai is not a unique case, there are thousands of tribals and poor villagers across the country who have faced similar consequences or even worse.

Amnesty International India in its report — When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India — released in New Delhi on Wednesday has reported rampant violation of human rights in coal mining areas in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

The report is based on surveys, research and interviews of affected people — the Adivasi communities of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. About 70 percent of India’s coal is located in these three states in central and eastern part of the country. This is the story of 26 million members of the Adivasi (tribal) community, who don’t know when they might get displaced and lose their source of livelihood.

The three coal mines — SECL’s Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Limited’s (CCL) Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited’s (MCL) Basundhara-West mine in Odisha — all subsidiaries of CIL, have been profiled by Amnesty International India which has found 9,250 families at high risk.

Development versus Exploitation

The report shows how in the name of development and growth, the Adivasis — the real owners of forest land where these mines are located — have to face exploitation at the hands of government agencies, coal companies, corporates and private mining companies. Blatant violation of laws, failure to ensure meaningful consultation with Adivasi communities on land acquisition, not AreasOfConcernfollowing the rehabilitation and resettlement act, and ignoring the environmental impacts of mines — all these factors have seriously affected the lives and livelihood of these communities. “The government plans to nearly double coal production by 2020, and Coal India wants to produce a billion tonne of coal every year. Yet both the company and central and state governments don’t seem to care to speak or listen to vulnerable Adivasi communities, whose lands are acquired and forests destroyed for coal mining,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India, while releasing the report.

“Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards, and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations,” he said.

Mineral reserves, a national property

Former Union Minister for Tribal and Panchayati Raj Affairs, V Kishore Chandra Deo termed mines and mineral reserves as nation’s property during the presentation of the report.

“Does our concept of development include the poorest of poor—the rightful owners and stakeholders of land?” he questioned. “Mineral reserves are not the property of any government. They are merely custodians. The development that does not include the Adivasi and that leaves out the poorest of the poor is not development, but exploitation,” Singh Deo asserted.

Citing the report, the former minister said, “It exposes a pattern of human rights violations in open-cast mines run by different Coal India subsidiaries be it SECL, CCL or MCL. In addition to this, while most of the mining lobbies act as mafias, many state governments are not interested in the welfare of the tribals.”

Laws diluted to suit the purpose

In spite of having legal provisions like Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, commonly known as PESA; Forest Rights Act, 2006; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; and Land Acquisition: Coal Bearing Areas Act, 1957, the Adivasi communities have been deprived of their rights. The report observes that instead of using public hearing (a mandatory clause) as an opportunity to hear and address community concerns, the state and central government authorities and companies consider it as a bureaucratic hurdle. “The role of Gram Sabhas is often ignored and violated. The existing laws were diluted both by the UPA and NDA governments,” remarked Shailesh Rai, senior policy advisor, Amnesty International.

“There’s an unwritten strategy of not to give pattas (legal right) to Adivasis for the land on which they have been living for decades by the government. A Supreme Court bench judgment said that the tribals living in Schedule V areas are also the owners of the land, but it’s violated and ignored. We should have a national mineral policy, so that Adivasis couldn’t be exploited for quick bucks,” added Singh Deo. “There’s blatant violation of laws both by CIL and private sector companies. We need to ask whether we really need so many power plants for which so much mining of coal takes place. Due to this land grabbing is taking place in many forms. Contractualization of employment in mines is a major concern and no permanent job is given to the Adivasis after acquiring their land. Moreover, the compensation offered to them is petty,” pointed out Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattigarh-based human rights lawyer and general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

Amnesty International India has recommended that the central government must introduce a notification in the Parliament ensuring any land acquisition for coal mining involves social impact assessment and, inform and seek approval from Adivasi community prior to mining. “We’re not against development. But, development at what cost? By violating laws and exploitation of Adivasis? We’ll take up these issues with all the ministries and the state governments concerned. Violations should be stopped and focus should be on adhering to existing laws. We’ve to make sure that the tribals living in these areas should be heard and do not face the situation that others have faced. There’s a strong need to make Adivasis aware of their rights and laws that would protect them from being exploited,” Patel told Firstpost.


India: Government, Coal India sacrifice Adivasi rights in the name of development

http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/42112/

13 July 2016

Mining operations by India’s state-owned Coal India Limited, the world’s largest coal producer, are shutting out indigenous Adivasi communities from decisions that affect their lives, Amnesty International India said in a new report published today.

The report, “When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?”: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India, traces how Coal India subsidiaries, central government ministries and state government authorities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha failed to ensure meaningful consultation with Adivasi communities on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, and the environmental impacts of mines, seriously affecting their lives and livelihoods.

“The government plans to nearly double coal production by 2020, and Coal India wants to produce a billion tonnes of coal every year. Yet both the company and central and state governments don’t seem to care to speak or listen to vulnerable Adivasi communities whose lands are acquired and forests destroyed for coal mining,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

“Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards, and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations.”

The report exposes a pattern of human rights violations in open-cast mines run by different Coal India subsidiaries: South Eastern Coalfields Limited’s Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Limited’s Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields’ Limited’s Basundhara-West mine in Odisha.

It is based in part on interviews with 124 affected Adivasi people across the three mine areas; village, district and state government officials from the Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha state forest departments and pollution control boards; representatives of the three Coal India subsidiaries; and local journalists, activists and lawyers.

The main findings of the report were shared with the relevant state authorities and companies, offering them an opportunity for comment. No response was received.

Abusive land acquisition

Land acquisition for Coal India’s mines is carried out under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act (CBA Act), which does not require authorities to consult affected communities, or seek the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples, as stipulated by international law. A new land acquisition law enacted in 2014 specifically exempts acquisition under the CBA Act from seeking the consent of affected families or carrying out social impact assessments.

In each of the three Coal India mines examined, the central government acquired land without directly informing affected families, or consulting them about their rehabilitation and resettlement. Frequently, the only official notice given was a declaration of the government’s ‘intention to acquire’ land in an official government gazette, which is virtually impossible to access for affected communities.

“The CBA Act undermines communities’ security of tenure. Any eviction resulting from acquisition under the Act is likely to amount to a forced eviction, which is prohibited under international law,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar, Senior Researcher at Amnesty International India.

Poor enforcement of environment and Adivasi rights laws

India’s environmental laws require state pollution control authorities to set up public consultations with local communities likely to be affected by industrial projects to give them an opportunity to voice any concerns. However public consultations conduced in the three mining areas suffered from serious flaws.

Pollution control authorities made few attempts to reach out to villagers who were not formally literate, or to explain the impacts of mining. Advisory committees at the central Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) often only perfunctorily referred to the concerns raised at public hearings before granting environment clearances to mine expansions.

At a public hearing for the expansion of the Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, company officials spent only a few minutes explaining the impact of the project. Of 38 people who spoke at the public hearing, the only one who spoke in favour of the expansion was a Coal India employee. Yet an advisory committee at the MoEF cleared the mine’s expansion without adequately addressing the concerns raised.

“To make matters worse, in recent years, successive central governments have sought to dilute requirements for public hearings for certain categories of mines, putting the rights of local communities at further risk,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar.

India’s Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act) requires authorities to consult gram sabhas (village assemblies) in protected Adivasi regions before acquiring their land, or deciding on rehabilitation and resettlement measures. These consultations were not held in any of the three mine areas.

The Forest Rights Act requires state governments to obtain the consent of Adivasi gram sabhas before using forest land for industry. Again, authorities did not seek the consent of communities under the Act in the three mines examined in the report, or conducted village assemblies that appeared to be flawed.

"Recognition of the powers of the gram sabha is central to the implementation of both the PESA Act and the Forest Rights Act, and it is this decentralisation of power to Adivasi communities that the state and central governments seem to be refusing to accept," said Sudha Bharadwaj, a human rights lawyer who works with Adivasi communities in Chhattisgarh.

“In these three mines, authorities and companies appear to have seen public hearings more as a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome than a genuine opportunity to hear and address community concerns,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar.

Corporate failure to respect human rights

Under international standards on business and human rights, Coal India and its subsidiaries have a responsibility to respect human rights, including by carrying out due diligence to ensure that government agencies had conducted proper consultation with regard to coal mining operations. This responsibility exists over and above compliance with national laws.

However the companies appeared to have taken little or no action to either consult communities themselves or to ensure that government consultations were adequate and met human rights standards. Often, the companies and government authorities worked together to remove people from land identified for coal mining.

“Coal India knowingly benefited from land acquisition processes that violated the human rights of thousands of people,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar. “It cannot point to the failure of the government as a defence for its own failure to respect the rights of communities.”

“The human rights violations that seem to accompany mining by Coal India call into question the central government’s promises of inclusive development, with far-reaching impacts in the future,” said Aakar Patel.

“Coal India must urgently address the human rights impacts of the expansion of the Kusmunda, Tetariakhar and Basundhara-West mines, in full consultation with project-affected communities. It should ensure that these expansions do not go ahead until existing human rights concerns are resolved.”

“The central government must ensure that any land acquisition for coal mining involves human rights impact assessments and the seeking of the free prior and informed consent of Adivasi communities.”

“Coal mining is described as being integral to India’s economic progress. But development is hollow without dialogue and respect for human rights.”

 

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