The Talabira forest in Sambalpur district is on the verge of being wiped out. On December 9 and 10, 2019, more than 40,000 trees were cut for an open cast coal mine. The move came after the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change granted Stage II clearance to divert 1,038 hectares of forestland for the mining project on March 28, 2019. The open cast mine comprises Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks. These blocks were previously allocated to Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), Mahanadi Coal Fields and Hindalco for mining operations. The allocation of the mine to Hindalco was, in fact, at the centre of the coal scam. Following the Supreme Courts order on September 24, 2014, cancelling the allocation of 214 coal mines to various private and stateowned corporations terming it illegal, the Talabira II and III coal blocks were reallotted to NLC India Limited in July 2018. A subsidiary of the Adani Group, Talabira (Odisha) Mining Private Limited signed an agreement with NLC in the same year to develop and operate the coal blocks. Coal mining activities commenced from April 2020. According to the letter submitted to the Central government by the Forest and Environment Department of Odisha seeking approval for the mining, the project in the two blocks will displace 1,894 families, including 443 Scheduled Caste families and 575 Scheduled Tribe households. The forest dwellers depend on the Sal trees dominant in the forest for their food and livelihood. The mahua they collect from the forest provides them income worth at least four months. Besides selling tubers, millets and mushrooms, the tribals also make plates out of Sal leaves, which they sell in the market. But the forest dwellers do not have titles under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) because they never filed any claims for forest rights. We thought this is our forest and no one can take it from us… Therefore, we never applied for rights under the FRA, Hemant Kumar Raut, a resident of Khinda village, told Down To Earth. This is a violation of the law as the FRA rules, 2012, require that the concerned officials raise awareness about the Act and its provisions. This is especially important if no claims are forthcoming and can enable the process of filing claims, Kanchi Kohli, senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, told Down To Earth. A news report quotes members of the Talabira Village Assembly as saying that they never gave consent for the diversion of forestland. The families also claim that the government has not offered any rehabilitation package to those who are dependent on the forest for their livelihood. Villagers have been staging a sitin protest at the site for the opencast mine since February 10, 2020. On February 13, at least 15 people from Budhiapali village were arrested by the police for protesting against the mining project. They were released on bail two days later. Meanwhile, Raut and other villagers claim that the NLC has tried to bribe them. "They selected a few people from one village and paid them INR 4,0005,000 and promised to continue to pay more in instalments. In the next month, some other people were bribed. But when they did not receive the next instalment, they realised they were being cheated, Raut told The Wire.
Demand for compensation, Demand for rehabilitation, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources
Scrapping of the project
Total investment involved (in Crores):
Type of investment:
Year of Estimation
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?
Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict
Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Land Acquisition Laws
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Prior approval of the Central government required for use of forestland for non-forest purposes]
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(m) [Right to in situ rehabilitation for illegally evicted forest dwellers]; Section 4(8) [Forest rights to be vested on forest dwellers who were displaced without land compensation due to state development]
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012
Rule 6(k) [Duty of Sub-Divisional Level Committee to raise awareness regarding the objectives and procedures under the Act]
Forest (Conservation) Amendment Rules, 2016
Rule 6(3)(e)(ii) [Consent of the gram sabha required for diversion of forest for development projects]
Odisha Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Rules, 2015
Section 21 [Consent of families affected by a project to be obtained]; Sections 31-35 [Procedure for rehabilitation of affected families]
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 8(3) [Prior consent of families affected by a project to be obtained]
Coal Blocks Allocation Rules, 2017
Rule 3 [Power of the Central government to allot coal blocks to any government company or corporation]
Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute
What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Non-implementation/violation of the FRA, Non-rehabilitation of displaced people
Out of Court
Status of Case In Court
Whether any adjudicatory body was approached
Name of the adjudicatory body
Name(s) of the Court(s)
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Whether criminal law was used against protestors
Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?
Reported Details of the Violation:
On February 13, at least 15 people from Budhiapali village were arrested by the police for protesting against the mining project.
Date of Violation
February 13, 2020
Location of Violation
Nature of Protest
Campaigns (Grassroots organisations/press releases/media), Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
Odisha Forest Department, NLC India Limited
PSUs Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict: