Raipur: Thousands of tribals protesting against proposed mining activities at an iron ore deposit in Dantewada district won a major battle when Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday ordered an immediate stay on felling of trees and stopped all mining activities in the region.
The move came following a meeting of the chief minister with a delegation of the demonstrators that comprised Bastar MP Deepak Baij, local MLAs, and senior Congress leader Arvind Netam.
Netam, who played a key role in resolving the logjam, has reportedly been asked by the tribals to represent them at government meetings.
The National Mineral Development Corporation (NDMC) had granted the contract for the excavation and mine development to Adani Enterprises. It has issued a statement claiming that the contract was granted in a transparent and fair manner.
The tribals are reportedly outraged by a possible destruction to the local ecology and a potential threat to their sacred place, Nadaraj Hill, where the mine is located.
A few days ago, dressed in their traditional attire and armed with weapons, about 10,000 tribals from 60 villages of Dantewada and Bijapur districts had staged an agitation opposing mining activities in Bailadila iron ore deposit-13. About 3,000 of them had stayed back and started cooking and living in small tents at the site.
As the stalemate continued, a group of Congress MP, MLAs and tribal representatives called on Baghel in Raipur on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the agitators’ demands and concerns over the project.
Among other things, Baghel accepted that the felling of trees at the site was illegal and ordered a probe, Congress media cell in-charge Shailesh Nitin Trivedi told News18 over phone.
It was accepted that the cutting of trees was the prerogative of the forest department and the chief minister promised the delegation that the department would not bring down any other trees in the region.
The delegation also apprised the chief minister about a gram sabha held in 2014 over the project and the sarpanch, who is unable to read and write, had allegedly put his signature on the proceedings of the meeting. Baghel ordered a probe into the matter.
Baghel also told the delegation that he would to convey the people's sentiments and concerns to the central government.
“The delegation would consult the demonstrators in Dantewada on Wednesday and most probably, they would call off the stir as most of their demands have been met,” said Trivedi, who was also part of the meeting held on Tuesday.