When the Chhattisgarh Assembly recently passed a unanimous resolution urging the Union government to cancel all coal blocks in Hasdeo Aranya forest area, it marked a great victory for a movement that has captured global attention. The movement didn’t have any celebrity or famous name attached to it. It was led by little-known Adivasis, who had little idea about their rights in the beginning, but could soon articulate the finer details of Schedule V. Without any external financial support, it was run solely on collections generated by villagers and defeated the collective attempts, to begin mining in the area, by two state governments, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Centre, as well as a big corporate group.
The movement began a decade ago against mining in the Hasdeo zone that has five coal blocks—Parsa, Parsa East Kete Basan (PEKB), PEKB Extension, Gidhmuri Paturia, Madanpur South and Chotia. The zone is spread over 1,878 sq km in Korba, Surguja and Surajpur districts of Chhattisgarh.