Every year, since 2007, the Chingari Trust has honoured an Indian woman who has been fighting corporate crime and protecting the environment with the ‘Chingari Award’.
The Chingari Trust was itself founded with the award money of the Goldman Environmental Prize and chooses to bestow some of its winnings on other women activists fighting to similar ends.
This year, the jury has chosen the women of Garghoda and Tamnar Tehsil in Chattigarh for the award. The names of the women are Bhagwati Bhagat, Uttra Rathiya and Ramila Rathiya of Kosampalli village (gare pelma coal block), Janki Sidar and Purbi Kalanga from village Milupara and Nagramuda (gare pelma coal block) and Pavit Manjhi-Khokro of Aama village.
Although they are from different villages the women have come together instead of fighting separate battles. Their struggle began when their village lost its land rights under ‘surface rights for a coal mine’ (Gare pelma IV 2 & 3 opencast and underground mine) in 2005.
The mining and blasting operations have been as close as 50 metres from inhabited settlements. The women have been resisting encroachment by the mine, the effects of blasting on homes and the environmental pollution resulting from mining operations. Absence of green belt, water level reduction, air and soil pollution, excessive dust and contamination particle levels are some of the issues against which they are struggling
The women are also a part of the larger struggle against displacement in Tamnar and Raigarh with Chattisgarh bachao andolan.
Our congratulations go to the women who are pictured below with Chingari founders Rashida Bee and Champadevi Shukla.