The issue of the forged signatures in the Gram Sabha resolution has received a boost from the Jabalpur High Court. The HC has pulled up the Superintendent of Police of Singrauli for not taking action on the complaint filed by the villagers on the forged Gram Sabha resolution of March 6, 2013. Acting on a writ petition filed by Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) member and Greenpeace Activist, Priya Pillai, the Jabalpur High Court passed an order directing the Singrauli SP to conduct an inquiry within seven days and communicate the outcome to the petitioner in the next 30 days.


16 July 2014Public Meeting at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh © Vivek M / Greenpeace


Members of MSS today personally delivered a copy of the court order to the SP to ensure that the order has reached the right people.

“The SP now has seven days to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the issue. If the enquiry reveals a cognizable offence, an FIR should be filed and necessary action should be taken against the thana-in-charge of Maada police station, who refused to register an FIR despite repeated attempts. If no cognizable offence is found, we should be given an answer in writing within the next 30 days,” says Priya Pillai.

This is a welcome development for the community members of the Mahan region and a setback for Essar’s proposed coal mine in the forests of Mahan. “The Jabalpur High Court’s order is a big blow to Essar’s plans of mining in Mahan forests. In case an FIR is filed, it could mean that a fresh Gram Sabha could be conducted to decide the fate of mining in Mahan forests,” says Pillai.

The Gram Sabha resolution in question is a forged document that was created to give a go-ahead to the mine in Mahan forests. Conducted in order to get a vote on the mine on March 6, 2013, the special Gram Sabha was attended by only 182 people. However, a copy of the resolution acquired through Right to Information (RTI) has 1,125 signatures. The villagers have evidence that most of the signatures in the resolution have been forged. The document even contains names of people, who have been dead for a number of years. On February 12, 2014, the Veerappa Moily-led environment ministry granted the stage II forest clearance to the coal block on the basis of this doctored document. Following this, MSS began a peaceful Van Satyagraha and declared the clearance null and void.

“For the past couple of months we have been urging the authorities to lodge an FIR for this case, but to no avail,” says Hiramani Singh Gond, member of MSS and resident of Amelia village. “This forged Gram Sabha resolution has given a free ticket to the officials from Essar and forest department to enter our forests and mark trees which need to be felled to clear the way for the mine. All this has to stop, till a thorough investigation is conducted into the forged resolution,” he adds.

The district collector of Singrauli had earlier gone on record saying that a fresh Gram Sabha on FRA would be conducted if he finds any discrepancy in the March 6 Gram Sabha resolution. “Several months have passed since he said this and we still do not know the outcomes of the enquiry or the action the district collector has taken,” says Pillai.

“Members of civil society, such as Ashish Kothari and Ramesh Agrawal, have written to the Tribal Minister and the district collector of Singrauli expressing concern over the way the Forest Rights Act is being implemented and urged them to ensure that a free and fair Gram Sabha is conducted the second time around,” says Pillai.

The Jabalpur High Court’s order is a move in the right direction and the local police in Singrauli should file an FIR after a detailed enquiry into the matter. Additionally, necessary action should be taken against the thana in-charge of Maada, who failed to do his duty.

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