Church leaders and activists have joined political leaders in opposing the federal government’s decision to auction coal blocks for commercial mining in the eastern Indian State of Jharkhand, which they say will disturb biodiversity and cause displacement.
Hearing the case on July 15, the Supreme Court asked the federal government’s opinion on Jharkhand State government challenging the federal decision to go ahead with the auction of coal blocks.
“Tribals in the state dependent on farming and forestry, so allotting land for mining will destroy vast areas of the forest as well as the farmland resulting displacement and migration,” said Father Vincent Ekka. He heads the department of tribal studies at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute in New Delhi.
“I even doubt the central government’s claim of job opportunities for locals. Mining goes on in several states for decades without concern about its impact. If it provides job for locals, why there is a mass migration from these states,” Father Ekka said.
“There are other ways for the government to generate income and stabilize the nation’s economic condition without disturbing the livelihood of tribal people, who are the protectors of the environment,” the Jesuit priest added.