Jharkhand opposition protests land take-over for NTPC project

Ranchi, Oct 19 (IANS) The opposition parties held a rally here against acquisition of land by the NTPC for coal block mining in Hazaribahh district of Jharkhand on Wednesday.

The prominent leaders who participated in the rally were former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) President Babulal Marandi, former central minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, leaders of the Left and other parties.

The rally took place at Barkagao, where National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) coal block has been allocated.

The rally was also against the police firing on October 1 in which four persons, including three minors, were killed. After the police firing, Congress legislator Nirmala Devi, her husband and former Minister Yogendra Sao and his son were arrested.

The leaders who participated in the rally expressed solidarity with the arrested Congress leader Nirmala Devi and her husband.

Speaking at the rally, Congress leader Sahay said: “The state government has adopted repressive measures and the government is taking measures to ensure land to industrialists at any cost. The people of the state are forced to give land forcefully.”

“The fight against NTPC project is going on since 2004. We will protest the state government’s move to acquire land forcibly. We also demand a judicial probe into the police firing,” Marandi said.

The coal blocks of Pankri Barwadih, Chatti Bariatu and Keredari in Hazaribagh district were awarded to NTPC in 2004 and the foundation was laid for mining work on November 21, 2005. A total of 8,000 acres of land were needed to be acquired, out of which 4,000 acres were from the “rayats” (tillers), 2,900 acres were forest lands and 1,200 acres the government land.

The land acquisition was estimated to hit at least 8,745 families and from the coal mining project every year it was estimated that 13 million tonnes of coal would be excavated.

Some land has been acquired, but the villagers allege that they have not been paid proper compensation amounts.

The opposition parties have demanded that the 2013 land acquisition formula should be adopted but the land has been acquired under the Coal Bearing Act.