Asia’s largest coal block sparks climate concerns but for Bengal’s Santhals it is about losing their home

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Ratan Hemrom, a 33-year-old rice farmer in Birbhum district, says he will lose his home, culture and community if the West Bengal government goes ahead with its coal mine plans. He lives in the Deucha-Pachami-Dewanganj-Harinsingha area which is also home to the largest coal block in Asia, the 2nd largest in the world. Our reporter Suryatapa Mukherjee spoke to him about why the Santhal residents are protesting against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s plans. His voice has been dubbed by activist Udvas Das.

We also hear from Dr Pradip Swarnakar, founder of the Just Transition research centre at IIT Kanpur, about what this means for India’s coal phase down plans. India has a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2070. This year, the Union Ministry of Coal set up a Just Transition division to draft sustainable coal mine closure plans.

Additional reading:

Deucha Panchami: Mamata Banerjee increases monetary package for tribals - The Economic Times
Bengal: Solidarity Platform Formed to Protect Rights of People Hit by Deucha Pachami-Like Projects | NewsClick
Coal ministry to have a 'just transition' division; WB to provide $1.1 mn | Business Standard News
Target of Coal Ministry is to minimize import of thermal coal and to make the country aatmanirbhar in the sector: Union Coal Minister
India’s Net Zero strategy: India can be a role model for developing countries | The Financial Express
India’s largest coal block will displace thousands but may not be viable after all - The Probe

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1. Plans for the coal mine (00:00:17)

2. Compensation for residents (00:05:15)

3. Lack of development for Adivasis (00:07:04)

4. State pressure on residents (00:11:24)

5. What about climate change (00:13:13)

6. Coal peak before phase down (00:17:04)

7. Loss of Adivasi culture (00:22:35)

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