Coal Mining in Kusum Tola, India

In Kusum Tola, India the local indigenous population known as the Adivasi may be forced to migrate from the region as a result of the expansion of open pit coal mining in the region.  Other villages have already been forced to leave due to the growing mine fields of the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) energy corporation[1].  Greater energy demands in India have led the CCL to exploit the Adivasi, violating their human rights[2].  This page explains how the Adivasi’s forced evacuation from Kusum Tola and related environmental injustices are a result of India’s increased reliance on coal due to globalization and industrialization.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 4.33.35 PM
Karanpura Valley Ashoka/Piparwar open pit mine. (Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International, 2010)

Background

Who

Where

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 1.12.04 PM
The location of Kusum Tola in Karanpura Valley, Jharkland, India (Pichler, 2014)
  • Jharkland
    • Site of the Ashoka/Piperwar mine projects and Kusum Tola village[7]
    • Holds 27% of India’s coal reserves[8]
  • Karanpura Valley (Jharkland)
    • Holds 9% of India’s coal reserves[9]
    • Government approved an extension of existing Ashoka/Purnadih mine to overtake more than 1,000 sq km of Karanpura Valley[10]

What

  • Open pit coal mining
    • Large strips of land get stripped away to reveal mineral ores underneath the surface[11]
  • Environmental Injustice
    • CCL coal mines threaten livelihood and existence of over 1,000 indigenous people since Adivasi depend on subsistence farming
      • Projected CCL expansion of mining will interfere with region’s vegetation and the villagers’ access to freshwater[12]
    • Adivasi in Kusum Tola earn a small compensation for exploitation of the land, but many do not receive electricity or revenue from mines[13]
    • Explosions of ground cause serious respiratory problems from coal tailings, especially in children[14]
    • Adivasi excluded from conversations concerning rights to region and are rehabilitated into colonies with minimal land 
      • Rehabilitation programs have good intentions, but compensation for loss of land and culture is insufficient[15]

Broader Context

Coal has become India’s primary source of energy and the nation is incredibly reliant on its reserves. Because of recent increasing economic growth and industrial development over the past couple of years, India is requiring greater extraction of coal to meet the energy demands of the nation[16].  India is ranked third in the world for total primary coal production and consumption[17]. Since demand is greater than supply, India has to exploit land which has not been mined before[18].  This has led to indigenous peoples’ lands being seized by the government.

Analysis

The reason why I believe these environmental injustices are occurring is a result of India’s newfound high dependence on coal as a means of industrializing.  The coal produced by the CCL aids the development and industrialization of the nation by providing energy to Indian residents, both in and out of Jharkland.  While the goal of the state is to improve economic conditions and the standard of living, these benefits have not yet proven to outweigh the non-financial costs of mine expansion.  One third of the Indian population lives below the poverty line (surviving on less than $3 USD a day), and 24% of the population doesn’t have access to the electricity provided by the country’s mines[19]. Yet, every year Indians consume more energy while the country develops.  The result of this growing trend of globalization and modernization, however, has been the further marginalization of indigenous communities.

India began an era of globalization in the early 1990s with many reforms to fiscal, monetary trade and licensing policies[20].  Under new foreign policies, foreign companies like IBM began outsourcing the indigenous products of India, and forced India to compete against increased foreign imports as well[21].  In order to compete in the free market, India began exploiting the natural resources of which it had large reserves (like coal) and using more and more energy.

The most important theoretical concept that is at play here is the idea of the treadmill of production[22].  Through globalization, India is attempting to compete in a capitalist market.  These capitalist economies need more and more materials and energy to remain competitive due to the treadmill of production, so when resources start to run out, this “treadmill” finds different locations for resources to maintain production. Wealthy corporations or corrupt governments will accumulate more resources by dispossessing marginalized or indigenous communities or groups of people of their land and their access to the same, or different, resources in the area[23].  In India’s case, the government saw Adivasi communities as the path of least resistance, as this group has been systematically marginalized for centuries[24][25]

In this era of globalization, many Adivasi India have been displaced and alienated.  Their lands have been acquired by both private and public sources and rich tribal culture has been lost as a result. This alienation from mainstream economic development has also catapulted many Adivasi into poverty, creating an even greater wealth gap between them and the groups benefitting from the exploitation of their land[26].  Without having strong political clout or money, indigenous communities, like the Adivasi in Kusum Tola, are the victims of egregious environmental injustices as a result of globalization.

References

[1] (N.D.) CCL Central Coalfields Limited, A Govt. of India Undertaking . Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.ccl.gov.in/ind/

[2] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International. (2010): Karanpura Valley TurnOver. Occasional Papers, 8. Retrieved from http://www.adivasi-koordination.de/dokumente/KVTO.pdf

[3] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 5

[4] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 6

[5] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 6

[6] CCL Central Coalfields Limited, A Govt. of India Undertaking (N.D.)

[7] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 10

[8] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 9

[9] CCL Central Coalfields Limited, A Govt. of India Undertaking (N. D.).

[10] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 10

[11] Southern, H. S. (1948). Open cast mining. New Zealand Engineering3(9).

[12] FIAN International. (2011). India: Open-cast Coal Mining Threatens Indigenous Villagers of Kusum Tola, Karanpura Valley, Jharkhand. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.fian.org

[13] D’Mello, Y. (2013). The Heart of Darkness in Mumbai: Adivasis live without electricity or water. DNA India Premiere League. Retrieved from http://www.dnaindia.com

[14] Temple, J. M. F. and Sykes, A. M. (1992). Asthma and open cast mining. BMJ : British Medical Journal305(6854), 644–645.

[15] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 13

[16] U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2014). India. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved on April 20, 2016 at https://www.eia.gov/

[17] U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2014): 16

[18] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 13

[19] Lindeman, T. (2015). Without electricity, 1.3 billion are living in the dark. The Washington Post. Retrieved on April 20, 2016 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/world-without-power/

[20] Jaysawal, N. and Saha, S. (2014). Marginalisation of Tribal Communities due to Globalization. Indian Journal of Dalit and Tribal Studies2(2), 37-54.

[21] Jaysawal and Saha (2014): 42

[22] Mohai, P., Pellow, D., & Roberts, J. T. (2009). Environmental justice. Annual Review of Environment and Resources34, 405-430.

[23] Mohai et al., (2009): 414

[24] Mohai et al. (2009):414

[25] Solidarity Action Research & Information Network International (2010): 6

[26] Jaysawal and Saha (2014): 46

 

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