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Birbhum: Adivasis opposing coal mining project get support from SKM

Farmers should not be forced to give up farmlands for the sake of mining industry, says SKM

Sabrangindia 24 Feb 2022

Birbhum: Adivasis opposing coal mining projectImage:  www.thethirdpole.net


Farmers umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on February 22, 2022 urged the West Bengal government to listen to the grievances of Adivasi farmers in the Deocha-Panchami-Harinsingha-Dewanganj region with respect to the upcoming coal mining project in the area.

Leaders protesting near national capital Delhi expressed alarm on receiving reports that farmers in the concerned area of Birbhum were being forced to accept the government’s “compensation package” and give up their farmlands and pastures for the sake of the coal mining project. Although work has not begun on the project yet, it is being viewed as one of the largest mine projects in the world.

Earlier on November 9, 2021, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a ₹ 10,000 cr rehabilitation package for those affected by the proposed Deocha-Pachami coal mining project. At the time, she had said that land would not be forcibly acquired but only after winning the trust of the local people. Yet, locals reported harassment by authorities amidst peaceful protests.

About a third of the farmers are Santhal Adivasis, with a sizable population in the minority community and disadvantaged category. As per various forest laws including the Forest Rights Act, Adivasi groups in related regions are entitled to a say in the sanctioning of development projects such as mining, given how it will have a significant impact on the environment and ecology in the surrounding area. However, the SKM said that the state government has not followed the legal process of holding gram sabhas, presenting mining project details or rehabilitation packages and obtaining consent from villagers.

“The administration has followed a clandestine process of obtaining purported consent from individuals, which is illegal. Peaceful protests are being brutally repressed by the police and administration. A reign of terror has been unleashed on villagers, many of whom have been arrested and jailed, along with activists who are supporting them,” said SKM leader Darshan Pal.

SKM appealed to Banerjee to instruct the local police and administration to immediately stop repression and arrest of villagers and activists and allow an environment of peaceful and democratic engagement. Further, it asked for a transparent, public and legally mandated manner of discussion between the farmers and the state government. Stressing their support for farmers rights, the SKM pointed out that farmers do not have to give up their farmlands, pastures, homestead and farm livelihood for the sake of mining and industry unless they give their consent through a process mandated in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

According to NewsClick, the project has an estimated coal reserve of about 2,102 million tonnes with a coal block area of about 12.31 square kilometres. The government claims the project will create over one lakh jobs but locals worry about the state of their livelihood once the mining begins. Concerned organisations told NewsClick that about 70,000 people may be evicted due to this project. Further, people may have to lose their traditional holdings if their main form of occupation is affected.

Related:

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Birbhum: Adivasis opposing coal mining project get support from SKM

Farmers should not be forced to give up farmlands for the sake of mining industry, says SKM

Birbhum: Adivasis opposing coal mining projectImage:  www.thethirdpole.net


Farmers umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on February 22, 2022 urged the West Bengal government to listen to the grievances of Adivasi farmers in the Deocha-Panchami-Harinsingha-Dewanganj region with respect to the upcoming coal mining project in the area.

Leaders protesting near national capital Delhi expressed alarm on receiving reports that farmers in the concerned area of Birbhum were being forced to accept the government’s “compensation package” and give up their farmlands and pastures for the sake of the coal mining project. Although work has not begun on the project yet, it is being viewed as one of the largest mine projects in the world.

Earlier on November 9, 2021, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a ₹ 10,000 cr rehabilitation package for those affected by the proposed Deocha-Pachami coal mining project. At the time, she had said that land would not be forcibly acquired but only after winning the trust of the local people. Yet, locals reported harassment by authorities amidst peaceful protests.

About a third of the farmers are Santhal Adivasis, with a sizable population in the minority community and disadvantaged category. As per various forest laws including the Forest Rights Act, Adivasi groups in related regions are entitled to a say in the sanctioning of development projects such as mining, given how it will have a significant impact on the environment and ecology in the surrounding area. However, the SKM said that the state government has not followed the legal process of holding gram sabhas, presenting mining project details or rehabilitation packages and obtaining consent from villagers.

“The administration has followed a clandestine process of obtaining purported consent from individuals, which is illegal. Peaceful protests are being brutally repressed by the police and administration. A reign of terror has been unleashed on villagers, many of whom have been arrested and jailed, along with activists who are supporting them,” said SKM leader Darshan Pal.

SKM appealed to Banerjee to instruct the local police and administration to immediately stop repression and arrest of villagers and activists and allow an environment of peaceful and democratic engagement. Further, it asked for a transparent, public and legally mandated manner of discussion between the farmers and the state government. Stressing their support for farmers rights, the SKM pointed out that farmers do not have to give up their farmlands, pastures, homestead and farm livelihood for the sake of mining and industry unless they give their consent through a process mandated in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

According to NewsClick, the project has an estimated coal reserve of about 2,102 million tonnes with a coal block area of about 12.31 square kilometres. The government claims the project will create over one lakh jobs but locals worry about the state of their livelihood once the mining begins. Concerned organisations told NewsClick that about 70,000 people may be evicted due to this project. Further, people may have to lose their traditional holdings if their main form of occupation is affected.

Related:

SKM urges citizens and farmers to punish BJP with 'vote ki chot'

UP: 18 police officers face the music for alleged fake encounter

Kolkata: Student unions protest the alleged murder of activist Anis Khan

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