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Anoushka Shankar joins the battle to save Adivasi Forest in India

Launches new film to highlight indigenous resistance to coal mining

Award-winning Indian American musician Anoushka Shankar has narrated a new campaigning film highlighting indigenous opposition to coal mining in the unique Hasdeo Forest in Chhattisgarh, India, home to 20,000 Adivasi people.

“I’m honoured to use my voice to help amplify the brave women of Hasdeo,” says Shankar, a seven-time Grammy nominee and multi-award winner, about the growing Adivasi (indigenous) campaign to prevent further coal mining in the forest.

Read: Sitarist Anoushka Shankar featured on Dalai Lama’s first music album (June 15, 2020)

At least two enormous open-pit coal mines are already established in the forest, but there are plans for three new mining projects there, according to press release from Survival International, a London based charity that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal peoples.

“The people of Hasdeo Forest are an inspiration to us all to stand firm and to defend that which is most precious,” said Shankar. “Their land is everything to them – it is their Mother, their god and their life, and they are utterly determined to protect it.”

“The Adivasi women of Hasdeo are placing their bodies in front of the trees they love,” she said. “I’m honoured to use my voice to help amplify their bravery in standing against the destruction of their forest and the desecration of their sacred sites.

Read: It was fun being backstage at Grammys: Anoushka Shankar (February 17, 2016)

“The government’s plan to sacrifice these people and their Forest for coal must be permanently stopped,” said Shankar.

The Adivasi communities in Hasdeo have resisted the mines for 10 years, during which time their leaders have faced threats and false charges and their demands have been ignored, despite the community marching 300km to the state capital, and having sat in continuous protest in the forest for over 100 days.

The three proposed new mines were recently put on “indefinite hold” in a major victory for the Adivasi campaign. However, they have not been cancelled, and the rights of Indigenous peoples, enshrined in Indian law, to withhold their consent for mining have still not been recognized by the authorities, according to the release.

Read: Anoushka Shankar launches new film to highlight Indigenous resistance to coal mining in India (July 12, 2022)

“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 recognized and stopping any further coal mining,” Jo Woodman of Survival International said.

Until these mines are totally cancelled, and the community’s rights are fully recognized, their peaceful and just fight for Hasdeo continues – and history will be on their side.”

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