Over 100 residents of Jharkhand's Jharia held a demonstration in front of the Dhanbad district collectorate for several hours on Tuesday, protesting against the alleged plans of tree felling by coal sector PSU Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL).
The residents under the aegis of two NGOs — Paryavaran Bachao Sangharsh Samity and Jharia Coalfields Bachao Samity — submitted a memorandum to Dhanbad deputy commissioner Sandeep Singh later in the day, calling for a ban on the felling of trees in the Jharia area of Dhanbad district.
“The BCCL has taken permission from the forest department for felling trees that are several hundred years old for its open-cast mine. They have assured the forest department of transplantation but unfortunately, they have not done any transplantation so far. We have tried to resist their moves to fell thousands of trees and in the process, they have lodged a case against our members at Putki police station. We are not going to let them fell trees as it will have adverse effects on the environment in the area which is already facing serious air pollution hazards,” said Rajiv Sharma, president of the Jharia Coalfields Bachao Samity.
Jharia had topped the list of polluted towns in India among the 313 surveyed in a 2019 Greenpeace India report.
The memorandum submitted to the deputy commissioner informs that the residents have been staying in the Putki colliery for nearly seven decades.
“Lakhs of trees were planted several decades ago in an over two-kilometre stretch. However, the BCCL has got permission for its open-cast mines in the area. Out of more than 5,000 trees, the BCCL has taken permission to cut 1,705 trees and assured to transplant 329 trees. But the BCCL management has neither identified trees nor tried to transplant any trees. If the trees get cut, it will have an adverse impact on the residents staying in this area for nearly seven decades,” the memorandum states.