#India – Police detain Adivasi protesters as President lays foundation for Jindal power plant


ANUMEHA YADAV,
GODDA (JHARKHAND), May 1, 2013

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Villagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury
The HinduVillagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury

More than 50 Adivasi farmers, including women, were detained for over six hours on Tuesday at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, a kilometre from the venue where President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation for a thermal power plant to be set up by Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL).

Farmers from 11 villages in the Nimpaniya and Goiarijor blocks said they had gathered at Sundarpahari to oppose land acquisition by JSPL. At 10 a.m. they were detained by the police and kept on the station premises till evening.

“My family lives at Seemaldhap village in Chota Amarpur. More than 200 of us had gathered at Tiril Tola over the last two days because we planned to march to the venue but the police arrested us. I had rice with me for my little daughter but the police kept that away too,” Hopanmai Marandi told this reporter.

“We were already displaced when the Sunder Dam was built. We will not allow ourselves to be moved from our land again,” said another villager Mary Nisha Hasda.

As part of JSPL’s expansion plans in Jharkhand, it had announced the setting up of the 1,320-MW captive power plant in Godda at a cost of Rs. 8,500 crore. The plant will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam and the Gumani and Jalhara rivers.

JSPL, in a statement, said all land for its projects had been obtained “through the government acquisition route, with consent of the people,” a point the company director and MP Naveen Jindal reiterated at the inauguration ceremony attended by Governor Syed Ahmed, Nishikant Dubey, MP (Godda), and political leaders, including Subodh Kant Sahai, Hemlal Murmu, Devidhan Besra, MP (Rajmahal), senior State officials and pradhans and mukhiyas from seven villages.

Superintendent of Police Ajay Linda, however, denied anyone had been detained. “There was overcrowding at the venue because so many villagers wanted to attend the inauguration function. Then some of them stayed back at the police station which is only a km away,” he said on the phone.

Away from the police station, hundreds of policemen and home guards carrying sticks walked around villages. “Only the families in Bangali Tola agreed to sell land to the company, the rest of us have refused. The police have been coming to the village regularly now. All land around this village is my land. Its yield lasts us the whole year; we will not give up this land,” said a woman in Kalhajhar’s Charai Tola.

“My father is in the Nimpaniya panchayat samiti. My family and other 30-35 families from my village are ready to sell our land. How else will we move to cities?” said Sujit Kumar, who is home during a break from his training at an industrial training institute.

Godda lies in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand. All land transactions are governed by the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA) and most of the land is non-transferable and non-saleable, whether owned by tribals or non-tribals. “Because of the Santhal rebellion against the British in 1855 in which 30,000 Santhals died fighting to protect their land, only land classified as Gair Majurwa Khaas (GMK) or land listed as non-agricultural land owned by the government can be transferred. The rest of the transfers — except those made as gifts to relatives etc. — are illegal. It is not possible that a power plant will be built only on GMK land. Despite these norms, officials continue to alienate tribals from land,” said Ramesh Sharan, economist at Ranchi University.

FOUNDATION LAID

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Tuesday, laid the foundation for Jindal Steel and Power’s (JSPL) 1,320 -MW thermal power plant at Godda district. The captive power plant, with an estimated cost of Rs.8,500 crore, will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam, Gumani and Jalhara river. It will be the first mega power project in Santhal Pargana region in the state’s eastern region, and is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to 20,000 people.

“I expect this power plant will meet the electricity needs of rural areas that face a shortage of 33 per cent. This is a coal-producing region and the needs of the villagers from around here must be met on priority,” said Mr. Mukherjee addressing the public after laying the foundation

 

Green tribunal reserves order on JSPL’s #Chhattisgarh plant


Nov 10, 2012, DNA

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday reserved its order on the appeal against the environmental clearance given to Naveen Jindal’s steel and power plant in Chhattisgarh.

The appeal filed by NGO Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Sanghatan and Jan Chetna had alleged that there were serious environmental flaws and the public hearing conducted in 2010 was an eyewash and repeated moves by JSPL to increase the land acquired for the each power unit is bad in law.

Senior advocate Raj Panjwani appearing on behalf of the NGO told the bench of justice AS Naidu and expert member Devendra Kumar Agarwal, “All construction work started at this project was much before they got due clearance from the ministry of environment concerned and all promises JSPL made for the future are always taken for granted.”

Citing the example of how the land demand of JSPL increased with every unit, Panjwani told the bench, “First they needed 614 hectares for 1000MW and then 1041 hectares for 2400MW. It seems that there are no norms for acquiring the land for JSPL.”

Taking note of the submissions made by Panjwani, the bench also questioned JSPL as to on what grounds land acquiring system changes from one project to other and remarked “How optimisation is taking place?”

On this senior advocate Pinaki Misra appearing for JSPL said, “We are adhering to all environmental rules and regulations and if still the tribunal thinks that we are flouting any rules, then we at our own cost is ready to get an environment assessment done.”

To a query by the bench on procurement of water for running the plant, Misra said, “We are currently fulfilling our needs from the Mahanadi river and is soon to laid down pipes over there for which we have filed an application in the environment ministry for due clearance.”

“You are already operating 2 units at the plant and still no permission has been taken in advance from the ministry. Are you speculating that you will get permission for what all you have been doing,” the bench remarked asking it to adhere to rules and regulations strictly.

The NGT has also directed all parties to file the written submissions if any by November 20.