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When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India


Mining operations by India’s state-owned Coal India Limited, the world’s largest coal producer, are shutting out indigenous Adivasi communities from decisions that affect their lives, Amnesty International India said in a new report published today.

The report, “When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?”: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India, traces how Coal India subsidiaries, central government ministries and state government authorities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha failed to ensure meaningful consultation with Adivasi communities on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, and the environmental impacts of mines, seriously affecting their lives and livelihoods.

“The government plans to nearly double coal production by 2020, and Coal India wants to produce a billion tons of coal every year.Yet both the company and central and state governments don’t seem to care to speak or listen to vulnerable Adivasi communities whose lands are acquired and forests destroyed for coal mining,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

“Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards, and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations.”

The report exposes a pattern of human rights violations in open-cast mines run by different Coal India subsidiaries: South Eastern Coalfields Limited’s Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Limited’s Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields’ Limited’s Basundhara-West mine in Odisha.

It is based in part on interviews with 124 affected Adivasi people across the three mine areas; village, district and state government officials from the Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha state forest departments and pollution control boards; representatives of the three Coal India subsidiaries; and local journalists, activists and lawyers.

The main findings of the report were shared with the relevant state authorities and companies, offering them an opportunity for comment. No response was received.

Abusive land acquisition

Land acquisition for Coal India’s mines is carried out under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act (CBA Act), which does not require authorities to consult affected communities, or seek the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples, as stipulated by international law. A new land acquisition law enacted in 2014 specifically exempts acquisition under the CBA Act from seeking the consent of affected families or carrying out social impact assessments.

In each of the three Coal India mines examined, the central government acquired land without directly informing affected families, or consulting them about their rehabilitation and resettlement. Frequently, the only official notice given was a declaration of the government’s ‘intention to acquire’ land in an official government gazette, which is virtually impossible to access for affected communities.

“The CBA Act undermines communities’ security of tenure. Any eviction resulting from acquisition under the Act is likely to amount to a forced eviction, which is prohibited under international law,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar, Senior Researcher at Amnesty International India.

Poor enforcement of environment and Adivasi rights laws

India’s environmental laws require state pollution control authorities to set up public consultations with local communities likely to be affected by industrial projects to give them an opportunity to voice any concerns. However public consultations conduced in the three mining areas suffered from serious flaws.


Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

The present post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction was adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held from 14 to 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.

Download this file (Sendai_Framework_for_Disaster_Risk_Reduction_2015-2030.pdf)Sendai Framework[ ]531 kB

Looking for Leadership: New Inspiration and Momentum Amidst Crises

2014 was a year in which many citizens around the world lost hope and trust in conventional leaders’ abilities to solve national and global challenges. Governments were increasingly polarized—and seemingly paralyzed—in the face of growing inequality and entrenched poverty; environmental agencies watered down social and environmental regulations to attract more international investments despite the growing social and political unrest over land grabs; murders of environmental and land rights activists rose across the globe; the World Bank proposed weakening its social and environmental safeguards, forfeiting 40 years of leadership and rushing the sale of carbon, placing communities’ rights at risk; and the UNFCCC negotiators in Lima once again failed to reach an agreement that addresses the climate crisis. The credibility of the world’s conventional leaders and institutions, which were set up to advance development, democracy, and human rights, crumbled and crashed in 2014. The world and its millions of local and marginalized people urgently need better.

Fortunately, 2014 was also a year in which new, often surprising leadership emerged amidst the wreckage and began to offer inspiration and solutions at scale. From Canada to Papua New Guinea, courts upheld constitutional and international commitments to respect local communities’ and Indigenous Peoples’ land rights, showing that judicial systems are increasingly beacons of hope for all who care about secure property rights.

Also showing leadership were certain enlightened corporations, which recognized the legitimacy of local rights and the need to find common ground with the true owners of the resources they need. Likewise, development donors made new and unprecedented financial commitments to support the recognition of forestland rights.

Driving all of these shifts were stronger and more effective community and indigenous organizations, whose key role in protecting their forests from destruction and climate change seems to have been finally recognized. All told, despite the tragic murders of many community leaders and an increase in local conflict, the events of 2014 brought new momentum for securing land rights and protecting the world’s forests—a welcome change after years of slowdown in the recognition of local rights.

The big questions for 2015 will be: can these unconventional leaders catalyze action on climate change, the widespread recognition of indigenous and community forest land rights, and the implementation of rights-respecting business models? Will conventional leaders join in this momentum, spurring governments like Indonesia, Peru, and those in Central Africa to deliver on their commitments to advance tenure reform? And finally, will the World Bank, which has the chance to reverse course in 2015, choose to maintain its safeguards, protect communities and Indigenous Peoples’ rights to carbon, and become a preferred ally of local peoples?

2015 is potentially a pivotal year for the world to finally fully respect the rights of forest peoples. And in doing so, protect the future for us all.

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Source: Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)

Deforestation Drivers and Human Rights in Malaysia

Carol Yong, SACCESS and JKOASM 

4 December, 2014 

Deforestation and forest degradation in Malaysia is a complex phenomenon with varying causes. So far, however, the focus has been largely on direct causes like industrial logging, large-scale commercial oil palm plantations and agribusiness, road construction and large dams. Far less attention has been paid to the indirect or underlying causes and agents, inter-linking and working to enrich the very few while creating hardships for many people as a result of degraded or diminished resources.

Major agents of deforestation include commercial loggers, commercial oil palm and other tree planters, infrastructure developers or governmental and developmental agencies. As community forests are plundered and forests are cleared, local sustainable customary land use systems are confined to reduced areas of forest land threatening their sustainability. This has had harmful effects on communities’ access to forest resources, consequently causing hardship and poverty.

This report is one of several commissioned case studies of the FPP’s Rights, Forests and Climate Project. It examines the combinations of direct and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation in Malaysia, and supports the convening of a global workshop to analyse these problems and develop solutions to the crisis.

This case study report has three parts:

  • Part 1 gives an overview of the status of Malaysia’s forests today.
  • Part 2 explores what is happening on-the-ground through fieldwork in two different geographical locations: a Penan community in Middle Baram  in Sarawak and an Orang Asli community in Labu, Negeri Sembilan in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • Part 3 presents some lessons learned as well as community initiatives, solutions and recommendations.

Click here to download the report

Source: Forest Peoples Programme


January 20, 2015

The ongoing global conversation to define the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda is a historic opportunity to end poverty and improve the livelihoods of the poorest and most marginalized women and men in the world.

Governments have already made strong recommendations through the July 2014 Outcome Document of the UN Open Working Group (OWG). As organizations working on food security, natural resources management and poverty eradication, we strongly encourage them to keep the profile of land and natural resources high in the document to be endorsed in September 2015. Secure and equitable land rights, particularly for those living in poverty and using and managing ecosystems, are an essential element of an Agenda that has the ambition to be people-centred and planet-sensitive.

We recall the international consensus governments have already reached on this subject, particularly with the 2012 Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, agreed by 193 countries. We embrace and are guided by the principle of leaving no one behind, as recently stressed by the UN Secretary General’s report “The Road to Dignity by 2030”.

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Source: Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)

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