Undeterred by the scorching heat, wielding bows and arrows, protesters from about 200 villages in Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur districts have succeeded in achieving a significant victory against the state government in Chattisgarh. The state government has stalled the work of developing the Bailadila iron-ore deposit which was allotted to the state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in the state’s restive Dantewada district. Over 10,000 tribals had gheraoed the NMDC’s check-post in Kirandul, paralysing work at Bailadila and also leading to the loss of Rs 12 crore a day to the NDMC.
Thousands of tribals continued with their agitation against the acquisition of the 10 MTPA (Million Tonnes Per Annum) capacity Bailadila iron-ore mine, known as Deposit 13, on a hill in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district by Adani Enterprises Ltd. as a Mine Developer-Cum-Operator (MDO). The area has enormous religious significance for the tribals. The hill is revered as the shrine of Pitod devi, wife of nature god, Nandraj. In addition to that, mining activities on the hill will also affect water resources, like rivers, leaving them dry and thereby affecting the lives of the tribals.
Meanwhile, the tribals are demanding a complete shutdown of Adani’s operations and are asserting that if mining commences here, the thick jungle cover in Hasdeo Arand area will be completely destroyed. It is important to note, the question of the cancellation of the mining licence still remains unclear. Bhupesh Baghel, the Chief Minister of the state told The Indian Express, “NMDC has 51% stake, and CMDC (Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation) has 49% in NCL (joint venture of NMDC and CMDC). So, a decision will have to be taken at that level, and does not lie with us.”
Also read: Dantewada Tribal Protest Enters Fifth Day Against Adani Mining on Hill
As reported, NCL was formed in 2008 and got environment clearance in 2015 to mine 10 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore from the mine spread over the lease area of 413.74 hectares. The residents of the region have questioned the basis of the Gram Sabha clearance offered in 2014. Many on the ground have stated that the Sabha was a fraud, with documents highlighting that only over a hundred members signed the resolution, while, the Sabha has about 600 voters.
Deposit-13 has a huge reserve of 326 million tonnes of high-grade steel-making raw material. NCL floated a global tender, inviting proposals from private players to develop and operate the mine. The company was granted permission to mine 2 MTPA, initially. Of the 10 companies that participated in the bid, Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) was appointed as the mining contractor in December 2018 after it won the global bid.