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Kusum Tola, India

Since 2009, demonstrations against mining have taken places as the mining is polluting the water reserves of Kusum Tola and against the blasting. In Jun of 2018, the young activist, Suresh Oraon, was murdered in Jharkhand.


The general conflict is about the widespread rapid development of open cast coal mining in the North Karanpura Valley in Hazaribagh and Chatra districts of Jharkhand. This specific case is about the village Kusum Tola (Chatra district) where the coal mine Purnadih threatens the livelihood of about 1000 subsistence indigenous peasants (Adivasis) and their cultural heritage as they have to leave their villages to make way for the coal mine. The coal mine was officially opened on 21 August 2009 and since then, blastings have been heard and felt. The hamlets of Dembua and Baseriya have already been dismantled and the villagers of Kusum Tola are supposed to leave next. There have already been at least 2 demonstrations against the land acquisitions - one in 2009 for stopping mining as it is polluting the water reserves of Kusum Tola and one in 2010 to protest against the blasting. The protests have been organized mainly by a Village Struggle Committee (young activist Suresh Oraon being in the forefront), consisting of more than 25 young villagers. Furthermore, local and international NGOs have engaged in the struggle. It is also noteworthy that the mining area is located in the Red Corridor, a 5 state area where the Indian government has been fighting against the Naxilites (Maoists) in the socalled Operation Green Hunt since 2009. Adivasis and concerned activists are often accused of taking part in the communist insurgency.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Kusum Tola, India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Chatra district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Tailings from mines
Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Purnadih Mine that is currently threatening the villagers of Kusum Tola is one of several mines in the North Karanpura Valley (North Karanpura Coalfields). They will ultimately destroy over 1,100 sqkm of land and forest. A mine producing 40 million tonnes of coal in its lifetime (about 15 years) devastates about 25 sqkm in area.

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:4500 people
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) from India - State enterprise
Relevant government actors:Central Coalfields Limited
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CASS - Chotanagpur Adivasi Seva Samiti (India), INTACH - Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (India), FIAN - Food First Information and Action Network (International), JMACC - Jharkhand Mines Areas Coordination Committee (India), BIRSA - Bindrai Institute for Research Study and Action (India)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Other Health impactshealth problems and reduced life span due to disease caused by inhalation of mine dust
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:First of all, the villagers demand the right to stay on their lands and live in peace. The support groups request the government to halt mining until up to date EIAs and SIAs have been done (these are missing so far or outdated). They furthermore request the company CCL to adequately compensate all the villagers that have been evicted so far. The transnational support network calls for the publication of this carbon generating programme in the context of global warming.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The expansion of coal mining could not be prevented, at most only delayed.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Right to Information Act, 2005

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Art. 11

Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Section 36

United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Art. 8,10,26,29,31,32

National Legislation:

The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2008, Sections 3,4,5

International legislation:

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

sarini (2010): Karanpura Valley TurnOver. Draft Version. In: [16.7.2012]
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[click to view]

[1] Anti-Coal Mine Activist Suresh Oraon Shot Dead In Jharkhand
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Melanie Pichler
Last update10/06/2018
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