No quarrying in Gidhmuri-Paturia, Madanpur South coal blocks: Baghel to Centre


RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel in a virtual meeting with union coal and mines minister Prahlad Joshi on Friday said Gidhmuri-Paturia and Madanpur South coal blocks will not be considered for auction and quarrying as both of them come under Lemru Elephant Reserve area.

“Gidhmuri-Paturia coal block and Madanpur South coal block would not be considered for auction and quarrying as both the coal blocks come under Lemru Elephant Reserve area”, said Chief Minister during the meeting.

The chief minister added that as many as 39 mines have been identified in the limits of Lemru Elephant Corridor and the question of quarrying in these mines does not arise, officials said on Saturday.

“No further activities would take place in the mines falling under this area which were found by Chhattisgarh or other states. Information regarding the same has already been sent to the Government of India, when the Lemru Elephant Reserve was published,” he said.

Sudeip Shrivastva, an environmental lawyer commenting on Baghel’s statement said the decision of Chhattisgarh government asking the Centre to withdraw Gidhmuri Paturia and Madanpur South Coal Blocks from mining list is certainly a good one but they also need to answer as to why Parsa, Kete Extension, Tara and Parsa (East) and Kete Basan (PEKB) blocks have been kept out of Final Reserve Boundary.

“Except PEKB, all these blocks were part of proposed 3827 sq km Lemru Reserve. Tara has dense forest mostly and Kete Extension is 98% dense forest. Like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan too ask for alternate block in Madhya Pradesh which will reduce transporting cost as well. But it seems private corporate are influencing decisions,” Shrivastva said.

In July 2021, cabinet agreed that Lemru Elephant project will be of 1995 sq km area.

The Chhattisgarh government has been considering the extension of Lemru elephant reserve area. Activists want the entire catchment area of Hasdeo River to be included in the reserve, which are natural habitat of elephant, and migratory corridor should be kept free from mining.

The plan to set up the elephant reserve across 450 sq km was conceived by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Raman Singh in 2005. In two years, it got the approval of the Union government. But the project never took off.

The Bhupesh Baghel government revived the plan after the change of guard in 2018, initially proposing to set up the elephant reserve in north Chhattisgarh across 450 sq km. In 2020, the Chhattisgarh government decided to expand the proposed reserve to 1,995 sq km and later, initiated another proposal to increase the size further to 3720 sq km in mineral-rich north Chhattisgarh.

However, the activists working in Chhattisgarh raised question over the 1995 square kilometer area of Elephant Reserve.

“The 1995 sq km Lemru area map has been created in a way that most of the Hasdeo Arand coal blocks are out of its outer boundary. Obviously, the coal blocks like Parsa, Kete Extension, Gidhmuri and Paturia Dand are out of Reserve. The main catchment of Hasdeo Bango Dam is at huge risk and mining interest has prevailed over farmers and tribals,” said Shrivastva.

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