Tribal Communities Oppose Rowghat Iron Ore Mine in Chhattisgarh to Protect Forestland

Reported by

Riddhi Pandey

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

October 5, 2016

October 5, 2016

Updated on

October 5, 2016

Location of Conflict

Matla Reserve Forest

Narayanpur

Kanker

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Iron Ore Mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

700

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2029

ha

Starting Year

2009

State

Chhattisgarh

Sector

Mining

In Chhattisgarh, tribal communities and activists have opposed the Rowghat Iron Ore Mine project in Matla Reserve Forest in Narayanpur and Kanker districts. They fear mining may have an adverse impact on the forestland and the region's flora and fauna and also disrupt their their cultural and religious practices.  The project, purposed for Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), is over three decades old. In June 2009, the project received environmental clearance for 2,028.797 hectares of forestland. However, it got the StageII forest clearance for only 883.22 hectares. According to the 2006 Rapid Environment Impact Assessment report, the project would displace households from at least 35 villages and lead to massive deforestation.  The public agitation fuelled after the process for constructing the 235kilometrelong DalliRajharaRowghatJagdalpur railway line began.  In response to the public protests, the administration heavily militarised the region to curb resistance. Reportedly, BSP funds many of these security camps. The local people have reported many instances of harassment, arrests and intimidation. There have also been reports of Naxaliteled opposition to the project.   In January 2014, Badri Gawde, a local social worker and political activist from the region, founded the Rowghat Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. However, soon after the protests gained momentum, he was arrested and allegedly falsely charged under the Public Security Act for aiding Naxalites. A 2016 news article reported that the next leader of the Samiti was imprisoned as well.  In February 2014, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (CBA) released a statement to raise objections against the project and highlighted the procedural violations in its execution. The CBA provided evidence to claim the violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, and Forest Conservation Act. The organisation raised questions over the 1,145 hetares of dense forestland left out from the purview of the forest clearance lease, which gave the company liberty to exploit the forestland. Based on a field survey, the CBA also reported discrepancies in the No Objection Certificates acquired from the affected Gram Sabhas and claimed that many of the affected villages lacked prior knowledge of the project.  Meanwhile, some of the affected communities attempted to file Community Forest Rights claims with the support of an NGO. However, in 2015, the subdivisional magistrate reportedly cancelled these claims. Following this, the state government took over the filing of claims. In many cases, the rights are yet to be settled or have discrepancies. In the same year, the Rowghat mine became operational.  According to a media report, the communities also filed a petition to object the mining activities citing the religious significance of Rowghat for the Gond tribe. The petition challenged the forest clearance granted to the project without the settlement of FRA claims. The case is ongoing in the Chhattisgarh high court.  In 2017, SAIL signed a contract with two private companies to develop the mine for 30 years. In June, the environment ministry approved an amendment to the environmental clearance to transport the iron ore through a road corridor until 2021 to accommodate the delay in constructing the railway line. This was met with strong opposition from the affected villagers who were agitated by the possibilities of the rise in pollution, procedural violations and the lack of compensation. In 2020, a newspaper reported that the company would soon start interim mining in the region.  In February 2021, a resident of Madpa village challenged the amendment permitting the interim road corridor. However, the court quickly dismissed the petition citing adverse economic consequences of hindering a mining project of national significance.  In May 2021, 12 affected Gram Sabhas in Antagarh block submitted a memorandum to the district collector to complain against the delay in the implementation of welfare schemes by BSP.  Currently, the project work is ongoing with support from the government. Meanwhile, there has been no progress in the settlement of rights claims or compensation. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Refusal to give up land for the project

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2500

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

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, Environmental Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Restriction on the use of forestland for non-forest purposes without prior permission of the Union government]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(e)(i) [Programmes and projects for social and economic development to be approved by the Gram Sabha]
Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957
Section 10B [The state government may grant mining lease in respect of notified minerals with previous approval of the Union government]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Paragraph 2 [Prior environmental clearance required by appropriate authority for new projects falling in the schedule]; Section 7 [Environment Impact Assessment to be in accordance with the procedure laid in Section 7]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [Rights of forest-dwelling Schedule Tribes, including entitlement over land]
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Section 3(1)(v) [Offence of wrongful dispossession of a member of Scheduled Tribe from their land or premises]; Section 3(1)(xv) [Offence of forcing a member of Scheduled Tribe to leave their house, village or other place of residence]
Section 41 [The section lays down stricter and special provisions for land acquisition from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, including requirement to make detailed development plan and to gain approvals from the local authority]
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  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

Claims for recognition of community forest rights were filed under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Violation of environmental laws

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Legal Status:

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)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Yes

Reported Details of the Violation:

Leaders and community members were arrested while protesting against the upcoming railway line under fake charges. In addition, there is widespread threat and fear that has been created by the presence of numerous security camps in the region which are suppressing dissent of any form.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Antagarh

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Development of a network or collective

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

National Mineral Development Corporation, Bhilai Steel Plant

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Steel Authority of India Limited

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?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Rowghat Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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