By Ishan KukretiLast Updated: Tuesday 11 June 2019
Tribals protest against mining in Bailadila hills. Photo: Purshottam Singh Thakur

 Tribals protest against mining in Bailadila hills. Photo: Purshottam Singh Thakur

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel ordered to stay all mining activities on Dantewada district’s Bailadila iron ore Deposit 13 on June 11, 2019.

Around 10,000 tribals have been protesting against mining the Bailadila iron ore Deposit 13 since June 7. Much like what had happened in the Niyamgiri struggle against Vedanta, the tribals of Bailadila also want to protect their local deity — Nandraj mountain.

The CM also ordered an inquiry into the bogus no objection certificates acquired from Gram Sabhas and illegal felling of trees in the area.

The decision came after Baghel met a delegation of ministers including Congress MP from Bastar Deepak Baij and former Union minister Arvind Netam.

“We met the CM today (June 11). Officials from the mining and environment department were also present,” Baij told Down to Earth. “All mining activities, either by National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) or a private company have been stayed. One of our other demands was that the wrongly acquired NOCs from Gram Sabhas be looked into and the CM has ordered an inquiry into it.”

Since the Bailadila hill range is a part of Schedule V of the Constitution, it is governed by the provisions of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996, which makes the consent of Gram Sabha mandatory for any development activity.

But activists believe the stay might not be enough. “The CM’s decision is a little ambiguous. The stay can be temporary and can be resumed after the movement stops. He should specify the Act under which he has ordered the stay. The CM should have met the protesters and cancelled the forest clearance given to the mining project along with cancelling the mine developer-cum-operator contract given to Adani Enterprises Ltd,” said Alok Shukla of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan.

The clearance to mine the Bailadila Deposit 13 was given to NCL, a joint venture of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) and the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (CMDC), in 2015, and transferred to Adani Enterprises in December 2018.

Down to earth