California, USA (CU)_ Anoushka Shankar, an Indian-American musician and a Grammy-winning artist, is utilizing her ability and popularity to bring attention to the imminent threat of coal mining in the unique Hasdeo forest in Chhattisgarh, India, which is home to 20,000 Adivasi people. Shankar’s new documentary narrates the story of the indigenous people protesting against coal mining in the Hasdeo forest.
Currently, there are at least two open-pit coal mines in the forest. However, according to a media statement from Survival International, which is a non-profit organization based in London that fights to protect the rights of tribal and Indigenous people, three new mining projects are being planned to be established in the forest.
Anoushka Shankar, the award-winning musician and sitarist, expressed pride in supporting the tribal community and their forest. She said, “I am honored to use my voice to help amplify the brave women of Hasdeo. The people of Hasdeo Forest are an inspiration to us all to stand and to defend what is most precious. Their land is everything to them – it is their Mother, their God and their life, and they are utterly determined to protect it”.
For over a decade, the Adivasi people in the Hasdeo forest have been campaigning to preserve their territory. Many of their leaders have been subject to intimidation and false accusations. However, the communities’ requests have remained unheeded, despite the fact that they marched 300 kilometers to the state capital and protested for over a hundred days to save their forest. However, in a major victory for the Adivasi people, the three proposed new mines were recently indefinitely suspended.
According to a media statement, even though the plans have been postponed, the struggle is not over since Indian law protects the rights of Indigenous people to withhold their approval for mining. According to Jo Woodman from Survival International, “The strength and determination of the Adivasi resistance movement in Hasdeo Forest has not wavered for a decade and they remain united and committed to saving their forest, getting their rights recognised and stopping any further coal mining”.
As the Adivasi women of Hasdeo position their bodies in front of the trees they adore, Shankar stated that she feels proud to voice out for their courage and support them in their fight against the destruction of the woods and the sacrilege of their holy locations. With her campaign video, she expressed hopes that the government’s intention to destroy the forest for coal will be canceled forever.