Re-Conceptualizing the Rights of Indigenous People Displaced through Uranium Mining: An Analysis of State Chhattisgarh
Volume III, Issue III, 2020
The Pre-Feasibility Report for Jajawal Uranium Mining Project proposed to be located in the district of Surjapur in State Chhattisgarh was released by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. in 2018. The Report presents a controversial assessment of the land, as it furnishes that India is a Uranium Deposit of only about 0.8% of the world’s uranium deposits. This raises a question, as to whether drilling and mining operations, in a protected Schedule V area of the Constitution, could meet the energy demands of India. Another facet of the argument, lies in the enjoyment of Rights by the “indigenous people of Chhattisgarh”. The Census 2011, documents that Surjapur is home to 55.11% of tribal of the total population .There is still a doubt about the efficacy of the project, as the report documents that the life of the Mine would only be twenty years; which will strategically eliminate the agricultural and tribal land, water resources, making it susceptible to pollution and non-usage.
Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, share a parallel resemblance; sharing a dominant tribal population and being an area protected under Schedule V of the Constitution. After various reports surfacing over the Jaduguda Mine’s controversy on the sustainability of the mine and unnatural release of radioactive and toxic waste ; there is genuine threat to the ecology, people, livestock, rivers, forests and agricultural produce in an area surrounded by Uranium Mines in Jharkhand. This problem will resemble in Chhattisgarh, as well, if a uranium mine is installed.
Various Claims, Committee Reports and Judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Court, propose a procedure for a sound takeover of a tribal land; but “language as a resource” acts as a deterrence for the tribal as they are unable to understand the gravity of situation and are defenceless in protecting their own heritage owing to language difference. They are further marginalised by Government claims over the chant of ‘Development’ and ‘Job Security’. In the light of the above proposition, it is necessary to revaluate the rights of the tribal, in a Schedule V area and argue about the efficacy of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, Schedule Tribe and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. This paper is an attempt to address the two pivotal rights of an indigenous community; The Right to Indigenous Land and The Right to Health. Although, the rights are not absolute in nature, it will discuss the juxtaposition in the light of Chhattisgarh, being a Schedule V area. It will further accentuate on how a balance between ‘Development’ and ‘Rights of the Indigenous People’ can be vetted and transformed in the face of “holistic development”.
Keywords: Uranium Mining, Rights of the Indigenous People, Schedule V of the Constitution of India, Chhattisgarh