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Kolkata: Civil Society, Tribals Protest, Demand Cancellation of Coal Mines in Deucha-Panchami

The protesters demanding the cancellation of Deucha Pachami coal mining project have alleged that the government is illegally occupying the land.
Coal Mines in Deucha-Panchami

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Nagarik Samanway Manch, a citizens' organization, staged a protest on Wednesday demanding immediate cancellation of the coal mining project proposed by the West Bengal government in Deucha-Panchami. With this demand, Civil society members marched from Sealdah to Kolkata Municipality.

Hundreds of tribals from Deucha Panchami also participated in this protest. At the rally, they raised slogans saying -- "Stop Deucha Pachami coal mine, remove corporates from our forest-land."

Members of the civil society alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed in several public rallies about respecting all communities, including tribals. However, during Banerjee's tenure, the people of tribal communities have been neglected and deprived of their rights.

On Wednesday, Nagarik Manch marched with this complaint against the government. They protested by playing a Dhamsa Madal in front of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Their main allegation is that the government is illegally occupying land and forests in the name of coal mining, and the possession of all these lands is going into the hands of industrialists like Adanis. They said the common people do not want this possession and the government should do what the citizens want. 

After the march ended, the agitators held a rally. The leader of West Bengal Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Debalena Hembram, tribal leader Lakshikant Hansda, member of Nagarika Sahandya Manch Anisur Rahman, lawyer Shamim Ahmed and others spoke at the rally. Ratan Hembram, Jaba Murmu, Kokila Murmu and others from Deucha Panchami also spoke.

The keynote address of the leaders at the rally was that even after 75 years of independence, many marginalized people, including the Scheduled Tribes, the oldest inhabitants of the country, are still living a subjugated life. They have to repeatedly fight for water, forest and land rights across the state and the country. Although the Constitution includes various rights laws for them, they are not getting the benefits of those laws.

Leaders complain that even though the government has started extracting coal from the mine, there has been no environmental impact assessment or public hearing for the project so far. Most of the tribals claimed to not have received compensation yet.

The Deucha-Panchami-Dewanganj-Harinsinga coal block is the second largest coal block in the world and the largest in India. Estimates show that around 20,000 people will be displaced due to the project.

Apart from opposing the coal mining project on Deutcha Panchami, the Nagrik Samanway Manch also protested against corruption in the appointment of teachers and the killing of student leader Anish Khan.

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