T S Singh Deo, the Health and Panchayat Minister of Chattisgarh, claimed on Monday that if he had the power, he would not have allowed mining in the Hasdeo Aranya woods.
This comes only two days after Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, while reiterating his decision to authorise mining in Hasdeo Aranya, claimed that “some people” are attempting to propagate false information about the mines.
“You are addressing me as the CM; I am merely an MLA,” Singh Deo told a crowd at an ongoing protest in the region. I would not have allowed mining in Hasdeo Aranya if I had been in charge.”
The sole state minister to see the demonstrators since they launched their sit-in 95 days ago, Singh Deo, said he had spoken to the Sarguja district collector about holding another gramme sabha. Singh Deo visited the affected areas after receiving assistance from the ruling Congress’s Sarguja district unit. “If people say they want a fresh gramme sabha to decide whether they want mining, they should get a fresh gramme sabha,” he stated after hearing the demonstrators. I propose that only those from the impacted region be admitted…” He went to the areas where people claimed to have planted trees instead of cutting them down. “I didn’t come across any plantations.” This is the source of people’s anger…”