The Chhattisgarh government granted the Rajasthan government licence to mine the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) coal block.
In the permission letter, the state’s Forest and Climate Change Department highlighted biodiversity restoration as a key criterion.
The suggestions in the biodiversity assessment study should be included in the wildlife management plan, and the mining corporation should submit an annual progress report on biodiversity restoration to the government.
After the first phase of mining on 762 hectares of land given to RVUNL in 2007, the PEKB coal block has been allocated to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) for the second phase.
The Rajasthan government has received permission to divert 1136.328 hectares of land for the second phase, which activists from Chhattisgarh believe would result in the felling of over 2, 42,670 trees in the jungles of Parsa and Kente villages in the Surguja district’s Udaipur tehsil.
The Rajasthan government had already received consent for the felling of around two lakh trees in the same tehsil to run the Parsa coal block’s second phase.
Both mining locations are located in the Hasdeo Arand forest, regarded as one of the thickest and most beautiful in the world.
The tree cutting has begun for the Parsa coal block’s mining.
In 2021, a biodiversity impact study in Hasdeo Arand Coalfield, conducted by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, recommended that 14 of the 23 coalfields be closed to mining to protect the forest habitat and wildlife, including elephants.
These 14 coal fields did not include the Parsa clock block.
Despite numerous reminders and communication, the Union government gave Rajasthan environmental certification to mine coal from PEKB in December 2021. However, requisite clearances from the Chhattisgarh government were still pending.
The Chhattisgarh approval was stalled owing to villagers’ and tribals’ protests that their frightened land was being handed to Rajasthan for mining.
The second phase of the PEKB mine might open in 2027, making a mockery of professional organisations such as the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which had recommended against it.