Coal projects and forced resettlement

From Global Energy Monitor

Many coal mines and coal-fired power plants -- perhaps even most coal mines and plants -- involve some degree of involuntary population displacement. This page seeks to inventory the most significant examples.

Phulbari Coal Project, Bangladesh

Project sponsor Asia Energy/GCM estimated that 40,000 people would be involuntarily resettled by the project. Activists activists say the number of people evicted is likely to be much greater, as the mine and associated infrastructure will use up 10,000 hectares of primarily fertile agricultural land. The project would also divert a river for the water needed, pumping out 800 million liters daily, and lowering the groundwater over an area covering 500 square kilometers. Asia Energy plans to create a huge lake after the project is over, but there are concerns that the water would be toxic.[1]

According to the group Cultural Survival, a government-sponsored study estimates that 130,000 people in more than 100 villages would be immediately displaced by the mine, and another 100,000 would gradually be forced to leave as their wells and irrigation canals run dry from the mining. Independent researchers and the Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (National Indigenous Union) estimate that 50,000 Indigenous people belonging to 23 different tribal groups would be displaced or impoverished by the mine.[2]

Thar Engro power station: World Bank balks at funding due to displacement

After the Sindh government in Pakistan signed a $30 million agreement with the World Bank for the Thar Coal and Power Technical Assistance Project (TCAP), in May 2010 Pakistani news outlets reported that the World Bank had withdrawn from the project. One anonymous government official stated that "major reasons for the World Bank's withdrawal from the project is lack of emphasis on Thar coal resources in our national energy policy and our failure to highlight these reserves as critical for our national security." One issue reportedly of concern to the World Bank was the resettlement of local people.[3]

Arizona: Black Mesa coal mine

Twelve thousand Navajos and sixty Hopis were removed from their lands under the Hopi Land Settlement Act in order to facilitate the Black Mesa coal mine, the largest removal of Native Americans since the 1880s.[4] John McCain authored the relocation bill, called the 1974 Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act.[5]

Articles and resources


  1. "‘You cannot eat coal’: resistance in Phulbari" Banglapraxis, August 19, 2008.
  2. "Bangladesh: Ban Coal Mine, Save Forests and Farms" Cultural Survival, accessed Feb. 2011.
  3. Ibrahim Sajid Malick, " World Bank abandons coal project in Pakistan", Pakistan Headlines Examiner, May 16, 2010.
  4. “The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold” Judith Niles, Shundai Network website, reprint from Orion magazine, Summer 1998
  5. Relocation Legislation Senate Bill 1003, The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974, Amendments, 2005 Black Mesa Indigenous Support website

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External resources