A tribal outfit that is at the forefront of a movement against the proposed coal mine at Deocha-Pachami in Birbhum district has called for a 200km-long march covering five days to the Raj Bhavan in Calcutta to press for the demand to scrap the project.
The Adivasi Adhikar Mahasabha's march will start from Mathurapahari, a village in Mohammedbazar that falls within the site of the project, on April 10 with at least500 representatives of the tribal community, including women.
After covering a distance of more than 200km in five days, the march will reach Calcutta for a proposed meeting with governor C.V. Ananda Bose at Raj Bhavan.
A leader of the Mahasabha said it had sought an appointment with Bose on April 14. Raj Bhavan is believed to have allowed a delegation to meet the governor on that day.
"Although we will start the rally with 500 people from Birbhum, several members of our community will join the march at places like Burdwan, Hooghly and Purulia on our way to Calcutta.... We want to meet the governor to request him to scrap the coal mine project that will have a direct impact on the livelihood of local people, especially Adivasis," said Jagannath Tudu, one of the convenors of the march.
Hundreds of representatives from different political parties and organisations, and members of civil society will attend the rally in Calcutta before it ends near the statue of B.R. Ambedkar.
"The rally of the tribal people will become massive once it reaches Calcutta on April 14 because a large number of people from different spheres of the society will take part in it to support the cause," said Prasenjit Bose, an activist and economist, who has been part of the movement against the coal mine project.
In May last year, he had filed a public interest litigation in Calcutta High Court against the project.
Bose claimed in his PIL that the Bengal government was violating the provisions of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The case is still pending in the court.
The proposed coal mine — spread over 12.31sqkm or 3,400 acres — has a coal reserve of around 1,198 million tonnes, the government believes. The administration has indicated its plans to launch mining in two phases — first in Dewanganj-Harinsingha and then at Deocha-Pachami.
Although a section of the administration is bullish about launching the project before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, some in the government are not as hopeful as there are many formalities to be concluded before starting the extraction of coal.
Birbhum district magistrate Bidhan Roy has, however, claimed that the work on the project is in full swing and the deadline can be met.