Forestland in Jharkhand Diverted for Kathautia Coal Mining Project Without Forest Clearance

Reported by

Nupur SonarLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 30, 2020

Location of Conflict

Kathautia

,

Kajri, Garikhas, Sika, Palhekhurd, Sakhui, Batsara

Palamu

This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Coal Mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

5000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

938

ha

State

Jharkhand

Sector

Mining

The Kathautia coal mine project, spread across Kathautia, Kajri, Garikhas, Sika, Palhekhurd, Sakhui and Batsara villages in Jharkhand's Daltonganj tehsil, was allocated to Usha Martin Limited in 2003. The project received the environmental clearance in 2006 and mining started in 2007. Protests against land acquisition and lack of compensation have been held since 2007, but they intensified from 2012. The mining company dug pits around the houses of those who refused to give up their land. Villagers have also lost vast swathes of agricultural land to the open cast mine. Land owners have held numerous demonstrations at the village level and at the mining office and have also filed FIRs complaining about intimidation by the company, land grab and harm caused by blasting but to no avail. In 2014, the Supreme Court cancelled the mining lease granted to Usha Martin in the wake of the coal scam. The block was allotted to Hindalco through e-auction in 2015. That year, the then Commissioner of Palamu, N.K. Mishra, submitted an enquiry report to the Department of Revenue and Land Reforms and the Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms and Rajbasha, highlighting violations of multiple sections of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908, loss of billions in revenue to the state in the sale of land for the coal project and misuse of powers by then Deputy Commissioner Pooja Singhal, then land acquisition officer Uday Kant Pathak and then Circle Officer Alok Kumar to transfer land to Usha Martin. The report stated that the nature of 82 acres of jungle-jhari (deemed forestland) in the mining area was misrepresented to facilitate the illegal transfer of the land to evade the scanner of the environment ministry. Following this report, a revenue department official was suspended, but no action was taken against the others named in the report. Rajeev Kumar, state secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, Jharkhand, filed a Special Leave Petition at the Supreme Court in 2017 alleging irregularities in land acquisition by Usha Martin. His petition alleged acquisition of forestland without forest clearance as well as land acquisition from poor and marginal farmers in violation of the CNT Act, 1908, and the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957. Attesting to Mishra's report, the petition stated that the project has caused mass displacement and that the land acquisition was invalid and was done without paying adequate compensation to the affected people. The petition also stated that the land was transferred through coercion and deceit. According to Kumar, coal mining in the area has polluted the Durgawati river and dried up wells in the vicinity, causing scarcity of potable water. Kumar also mentioned that both concrete and mud houses in the area were destroyed as an impact of blasting. In July 2017, the Divisional Forest Officer of Medinanagar directed Hindalco to stop mining on 344.16 acres of forestland, including the jungle jhari land as it did not have forest clearance. Three months later, Hindalco filed a writ petition against the order at the Ranchi High Court. On October 13, 2017, the court issued an interim order directing Hindalco to not undertake mining on forestland. The petition is currently being heard. Between March and May 2019, at least 26 land owners affected by the mining project filed writ petitions at the Ranchi High Court, alleging forceful acquisition of land in violation of the CNT Act. The petitions as well as the SLP filed at the Supreme Court are being heard. According to a media report, a protest against the project held in February 2019 turned violent and six dozen villagers were injured when they clashed with the police.

Region Classification

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

6800

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

938

ha

Starting Year

2012

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Jharkhand, Divisional Forest Office, Medinanagar

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Usha Martin Limited, Hindalco Industries Limited, All India Trade Union Congress

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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