His Excellency Shri Syed Sibtey Razi
Governor of Jharkhand
Ranchi - 834001
Phone: 0651 - 2283465 / 66 / 67
Fax: +91-651 – 2201101
18 June, 2009
PETITION FOR IMMEDIATE STOP TO NEW MINING OPERATIONS IN THE UPPER DAMODAR WATERSHED AFFECTING A MILLION PEOPLE IN 200 VILLAGES
We are a coalition of groups and individuals, both Indian and international, who are concerned about the devastation being effected by the rapid expansion of opencast coal mining in the Upper Damodar watershed, also known as the Karanpura Valley in the Hazaribagh and Chatra districts of Jharkhand, a richly forested and agricultural landscape with hundreds of ancestral villages belonging to originally settled Scoieties. We respectfully ask that you order an immediate stoppage to mining operations and an open and transparent review of how mine clearances are granted.
The State of Jharkhand was formed in 2000 to address the historical discrimination and disenfranchisement of the original settlers who had lived in the region before the establishment of present State boundaries, who are defined by ILO Convention 169 as Indigenous Peoples. Instead of protecting the land rights of these peoples the State is sadly failing to live up to its objective. Instead, the first decade of the State existence has been a free-for-all for mining companies, at a terrible cost to the original people and the environment. The Damodar River has become further polluted. Forced displacements of people from their homes have been accelerated. The unique and ancient landscape of the Chotanagpur Plateau is being sacrificed in a short-sighted rush for profit.
As an example of this, we would like to draw your attention to the coal mining scheduled to start shortly at Pakri-Bawardih near Barkagaon and over thirty others which have been allocated in Karanpura region. The rape of Jharkhand’s indigenous rights, cultural and environmental heritage, is moving into a final stage. The fertile lands of the ancient Barkagaon landscape and the rest of the Upper Damodar watershed now slated for mining as Karanpura Coalfields are among the best agricultural land in Jharkhand and have been farmed since before recorded history. A unique palaeoarchaeological stonetool evidence of Early Man known as the Damodar Valley Civilization, prehistoric megalithic sites, and one dozen rockart sites, the pride of Jharkhand, dated to over 8,000 years back which have been recommended to UNESCO as a Threatened World Heritage Site by INTACH, and over 200 villages where the famous Khovar and Sohrai art being a continuation of the rockart tradition, and thousands of square kilometers of forests which are wildlife corridors for tiger and elephants and scores of rivers flowing through the peaceful green agricultural landscape will be gouged out into 300 feet mine pits running shoulder to shoulder down the Karanpura Valley, which will be in a stark lunar landscape incapable of supporting human or animal life. The famed forests which are reflected in the name of Jharkhand itself, the “Forest State”, will be gone. Many of the proud Adivasi people in whose name the State of Jharkhand was formed have already been reduced to being homeless beggars, unable to farm as their predecessors did. Many more will now be condemned to this fate, forced from their homes as has happened so often, sacrificed for the profits of a few companies.
This expansion has a considerable effect in terms of global warming, to which India is particularly susceptible. Carbon dioxide is the single greatest contributor to global warming leading to eco-catastrophic climate change, posing a severe threat to human life, including the expected loss of glaciers in the Himalayas supplying water to the Ganges river and extreme sudden rise of temperature in the sub-continent. Carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere are already 50 parts per million in excess of world atmosphere danger levels and eminent scientists agree that the count-down to eco-catastrophe has already begun. The immediate reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has become a primary concern worldwide. In this regard new opencast coal mines and coal-fired thermal power plants, which are acknowledged as among the greatest producers of carbon dioxide, are unjustifiable.
Your Excellency, in accordance with your responsibility according to the Constitution Vth Schedule and PESA Act we request you to consider the above actions as violations of the following national and international Acts and Declarations,
1. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Articles- 8, 10, 26, 29, 31, and 32.
2. The Scheduled Tribes and other traditional Forest Dwellers Act 2008, Sections- 3, 4 (5), and 5.
3. Biological Diversity Act 2002, Sections- 36 (2) which requires directives to the State Government to take appropriate action, where any area rich in bio-diversity is being threatened, and 36 (4i) to asses the environment impact of projects which are likely to have adverse affects on bio-diversity.
We attach herewith the list of names of companies given allotments for coal mining in Karanpura. The Piperwar, Ashoka I & II mines have already destroyed a large, forested landscape ariginally being Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and wildlife corridors used by tigers and elephants between Hazaribagh and Palamau. The Pakri Barwadih mine to our knowledge has received Environmental Clearance which requires to be investigated in view of its damage to bio-diversity. The cumulative effects will make Jharkhand one of the most tragic humanitarian and environmental disaster areas in the world.
Your Excellency, it is time for Jharkhand to live up to the vision of its founders and put a stop to this. We respectfully request that a line be drawn starting with this ill-conceived mine at Pakri-Bawardih, which we are informed has been given environmental clearance despite huge damage to the environment and that you order an immediate stoppage to operations. We also request that you order a moratorium on all new mining projects in the Upper Damodar watershed in the Karanpura region and establish an open and transparent review of the way mine environmental clearances are granted. In this way, you will be fulfilling your responsibility to future generations who will otherwise be condemned to lives of unimaginable misery and poverty. Your name will also be recorded by history as a leader who acted with vision, wisely considering the needs of the future both globally and locally. You will be acting in the finest tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, who said “the world provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
INTACH, Hazaribagh Chapter
Director, Sanskriti Research Centre
Convener, INTACH Hazaribagh Chapter
P.O.Hazaribagh 825 301
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