Context: The Hasdeo Aranya forests are called the lungs of Chhattisgarh.
- Over the past one year, protests against mining in this region have erupted several times and some still continue to sit-in demanding a complete stop to mining.
- Amidst this, on July 26, the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a private member resolution urging the Centre to cancel allocation of all coal mining blocks in the ecologically sensitive area.
Significance of the Hasdeo-Aranya region
- The Hasdeo Aranya (Aranya means forest) lies in the catchment area of the Hasdeo river and is spread across 1,878 sq km in North-Central Chhattisgarh.
- The Hasdeo river is a tributary of the Mahanadi river which originates in Chhattisgarh and flows through Odisha into the Bay of Bengal.
- The Hasdeo forests are also the catchment area for the Hasdeo Bango Dam built across the Hasdeo river which irrigates six lakh acres of land, crucial to a State with paddy as its main crop.
- Besides, the forests are ecologically sensitive due to the rich biodiversity they offer and due to the presence of a large migratory corridor for elephants.
What is a Private Member Resolution?
- An MLA who is not a Minister — whether she happens to be from the ruling party or not — is a private member.
- A private member resolution can be brought in by a private member and if passed, it becomes an expression of what the House thinks.
- This is different from a private member bill which would become law in case of approval.
When did the controversy surrounding coal mining start?
- Underneath the Hasdeo Aranya is a coalfield that comprises of 22 coal blocks. In 2010, the Centre categorised Hasdeo Aranya to be a “no-go” zone for mining. It ruled out mining in any of these blocks.
- However, only a year later, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) granted clearance for the mining for one coal block.
- At present, of the 22 blocks, seven blocks have been allotted to different companies, says the resolution.
Source: The Hindu