In 1983, a big coal company moved in over 906 acres of fields and homes displacing over 3000 tribal. In the 3 decades since, the company has blasted the land, destroyed the ecology and almost killed a river that was the main source of water for the region. They mined coal from the people’s land worth hundreds of crores while the indigenous people got nothing and were left to fend for their own. The people’s struggle for compensation and rehabilitation has gone unheard. Hear their powerful voices articulate their grievances and demands in today’s video by our correspondent Chunnu and support these community voices by calling Central Coalfields Ltd. general manager Prabhakar Chowki on +919431552880. Ask for immediate change.
Read the article below for more details:-
IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Chunnu Hansda is a resident of the Chahri region of Hazarbagh district, Jharkhand. In the last 30 years following the government’s acquisition of 906 acres of prime land for Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL), he has witnessed the land and the people bear the trauma of extensive coal mining.
“We used to be a farming community until the mining company moved in. We had fertile land with a river flowing through it and were blessed with adequate rainfall,” he remembers. “Then, the mining company moved in. Over the years, the mines kept expanding and eating into our land. Now we are scattered villages barely existing along the margins of the mines.”
Chunnu describes the everyday horrors of living next to the mining grounds. The earth itself is all shook up. The constant high impact blasting at the mine site throws up stones and debris that projectile into the villages, injuring people and damaging their houses. Enormous volumes of coal dust are thrown into the air making it unfit for human consumption. Thick smog envelops the area at all times. The once full river that flows through now barely survives only because the region is graced with rains but in summer, it is reduced to a trickle. Living conditions, in midst of pollution and the dynamite, are inhospitable to say the least.
The tribal community of Chahri are traditionally farmers and farm laborers. The mines have effectively ended all agriculture by rendering the land infertile. The lack of livelihood has forced a majority of the inhabitants into the illegal and potentially dangerous occupation of ‘coal pushing’ or as Chunnu calls it – ‘koyla (coal) cycle’
‘Coal pushers’ dig their own small illegal mines in the periphery of the mine field. They enter these mines, cut away at the rock and then transport the coal on bicycles to sell it at the market. “It is a most dangerous way of making a living,” says Chunnu. “You are not only in danger from the law but also there is little security in these illegal mines which can collapse on you at anytime. This is no way to live but the people have been left with no other option to keep their stoves lit at home.”
“Our lives and our land have completely degraded over the last thirty years,” says Chunnu. “The company and the government are unwilling to take any responsibility for the thousands of the people they have cheated. We are only asking the jobs and the rehabilitations promised to us when we gave away our lands. We have truth on our side and are willing to fight until our demands are met.”
Call to Action:- Chunnu says that if you have seen his video and wish to support his communities’ struggle for their rights :-
1) Call CCL general manager Prabhakar Chowki on +919431552880 and tell him that you have seen the video in which the people of Chahri spoke about their grievances against his company.
2) Ask him to look into the matter personally and listen to the demands of the displaced tribal. Ask him to ensure that his company’s promises to the people at the time of land acquisition are fulfilled. Demand that the people be rehabilitated and compensated for their loss and trauma.