Appeal to Support Padyatra Against Illegal Mining on Forest Land in Sonebhadra, UP

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On 22 August, 2012, the Additional Chief Principal Conservator of Forest, Central Government’s Ministry of Environment and Forest wrote to the Secretary (Forests), Government of U.P. on the issue of illegal mining in Billi Markundi Reserve Forest and violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in Sonebhadra district. The DM had applied for diversion of 107.40 hectares of forest land for mining activities which was rejected by the Central Government. In spite of this 38 mining leases were sanctioned by the Mining Department of Sonebhadra less than 1 km from Kanachh Reserve Forest which is part of Kaimur Wildlife Sanctury. As per Ministry’s guidelines and SC orders no mining lease can be sanctioned within 10 km of a Wildlife Sanctury or National Park. In addition Jaypee Associates Ltd. is illegally constructing a captive thermal power plant (4 X 60 MW) with 1 MTPA cement grinding unit and 1 MTPA coal washery which is only 1.5 km from Wildlife Sanctury.

An enquiry report of SDM, Sonebhadra, SDM, Duddhi and Mining Officer, Sonebhadra exposes that out on 8.701 ha reserved forest land on plot no. 4471, except for 2 ha remaining is under illegal mining. Ashok Maurya, Mining Surveyor in Sonebhadra and his relative Anil Maurya have got mining leases on plot no. 4471. Ashok Maurya has been suspended be a HC order in 2000 under the charge of misuse of mining permit. It is a matter of enquiry how such a person got himself posted here.

On 27 February, 2012 there was an accident in one of mines of Billi Markundi in which about a dozen labourers from M.P. died. Whereas, the M.P. goverment as given them compensation the U.P. government has not fulfilled its duty.

The Central Government’s MoEF has held the DM and Mining Officer/Surveyor since 2009 responsible for the illegal mining on reserve forest land in violation of Forest (Conservation) Act. It has also held the DFO, Obra Forest Division responsible in case he has given no objection certificates for this illegal mining.

A PIL has also been filed in this matter in SC but the illegal mining continues. The government is not able to stop this illegal mining because leaders of all big parties have directly or indirectly got the mining contracts here. The press has also been bought. Hence there is nobody to raise a voice against the illegal activities going on here. The local population which is mostly tribal have no voice of leadership which can protest this. On the other hand they face the brunt of mining in the form of various diseases.

Socialist Party (India), which is the green party of India, is organising a padyatra from Varanasi to Robertsganj during 2 to 5 April, 2015, against the illegal activities in Sonebhadra. The foot march will begin from BHU main gate, Lanka on 2 April, 2015 at 12 noon and will have stopovers in Khajuraul, Ahraura and Madhupur before reaching Robertsganj on 5 April, 2015. To participate in the padyatra please contact Nandlal, 9415300520, to participate in inaugural programme please get in touch with Chitamani Seth, 9450857038 and to participate in the final programme at Robertsganj please contact Ajay Shekhar, 9794091446.

We also seek your financial support for the foot march. If you can contribute towards this please make a donation in the name of Socialist Party (India), Allahabad Bank, Hazratganj Branch, Lucknow, Account Number: 50084256339, IFSC No.: ALLA0210062 (If you send a contribution do inform us).

Sandeep Pandey, 0522 2347365, 0542 6702702, 0542 2575389, Guru, 9845294184, Mudit Shukla, 9415001846, Alok Singh, 8756222696, Faisal Khan, 9313106745, 9968828230, Shashank Singh, 9654413791, Bobby Ramakant, 9839073355, bobbyramakant@yahoo.com

Issued on behalf of Socialist Party (India).

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