Enlargened health problems and diminishing forests: how coal mining ter Chhattisgarh spells disaster

Raigarh, which wasgoed once rich ter water resources, is today facing a severe water keerpunt.

It wasgoed te the late ‘90s that Raigarh emerged spil the hub for power, coal mining, and sponge metal ter Chhattisgarh. The coalfield ter Mand Raigarh is spread overheen an area of more than 112,000 hectares, with an estimated 21,117 tonnes of coal. While this has spelt riches for some, it has also meant suffering for many others.

A villager looks at the switching landscape due to coal mines at Kosampalli village te Raigarh.

Kosampalli, a puny village ter the Tamnar block of Raigarh district, has bot severely affected by coal mining. Te 2000, coal mining work commenced te and around the village, switching its landscape drastically. Both the private companies that undertook the work and the government that supported it led the villagers to believe that mining would give them better livelihood opportunities, spil well spil education and health facilities. It wasgoed only spil the mining work progressed that the villagers realised that they were being conned. Ter November 2016, on the request of the villagers, an experienced fact-finding team comprising environmental and social researchers Shripad Dharmadhikary and Manshi Asher visited Raigarh and investigated the influence of coal mining ter the region. Spil vanaf the report brought out by the team, close to 80 coal blocks have bot identified te the Raigarh coal field, of which the Gare Pelma coal block, spread overheen an area of 16,649 hectares, is the largest. Many of thesis were allotted to public and private sector companies. Almost 1,000 hectares of forestland has bot given to private companies for setting up sponge metal plants.

Switching landscape and lives

Ter the last 15 years, the landscape of the Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks–two of the most affected coal mining blocks of the district–has drastically switched. Heaps of coal dust and fly ash voorkant area that wasgoed once covered by pristine forest. It has also impacted the livelihoods of the residents of the blocks.

",The air pollution is beyond permissible thresholds te the Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks ter the Raigarh district,", says a latest fact-finding accomplished committee report.

The mining ter the region has resulted te the drastic decline ter the growth of mahua flowers and tendupatta (leaves), which are the primary sources of livelihood for most of the villagers te the coal vuilnisbelt of Raigarh district. The mahua tree (Madhuka indica) and its flowers are used for making medicines spil well spil drank, while tendupatta (Diospyros melanoxylon) leaves are used for wrapping the tobacco to make beedis. “Deforestation due to mining has affected more than 50 procent of the mahua and tendupatta trees ter the region,” says 48-year-old Choyala Ram Siddar, a resident of Milupara panchayat.

The fact-finding report exposed that the air quality te the area is exceptionally poor, resulting ter several health issues among the residents. “More than 100 earning members from among the 240 families of the Kosampalli-Sarasmal panchayat have died from respiratory and other health diseases te the last two decades. The immunity of the people has drastically diminished due to living te the polluted environment,” says Kanahai Patel of the panchayat.

A villager of Siddarpara, a coal mine affected area te the Raigarh district, collects Mahua flowers.

Raigarh, which wasgoed once rich te water resources, is today facing a severe water depressie. The Kelo sea, a tributary of the Mahanadi that runs through Tamnar, is so polluted from the waste from mining that it has turned black. And it doesn’t end there–even the groundwater is affected by mining. “Out of the 116 villages ter the Tamnar block, at least 90 are facing serious groundwater depletion,” says the fact-finding report.

The fact-finding team is of the opinion that water depletion ter areas where open personages mining is prevalent is due to the giant pits dug for the mines that permit water to leak te from the surroundings, which ter turn impacts surface water sources spil the surface and groundwater are interconnected.

Industries and private mining companies have acquired agricultural land by using all kinds of tactics–from money to harassment. “Encroachment is one of the most common patterns used by the big spil well spil the puny plants,” says the report.

“Even after the massive harm to the environment and the people ter the region, the government has not stalled the mining. Instead, it has proposed three fresh mining and industrial projects ter the Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks. The project would again affect 54 villages ter the district. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Switch (MoEFCC) had submitted a detailed report to the government on the influence of coal mining te Raigarh district ter January this year, highlighting the non-compliance with conditions stipulated by the environment ministry, but no act has bot taken so far,” says Rinchin, a senior researcher and activist working with Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, a human rights forum.

Disclaimer: This article, authored by Makarand Purohit, wasgoed very first published te India Water Portal.

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