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Medha Patkar, others detained in Allahabad, as farmers' opposition to land acquisition for power plants spreads

By Our Representative
The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday morning swooped on several activists, trade union and left leaders, including senior activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), after it refused permission to take out a farmers' protest rally off Allahabad in protest against the allged refusal of the UP government to provide a viable compensatory package to those being displaced because of the power plants being constructed to meet the state's power needs.
Others taken into custody included Amarnath Bhai of Sarv Seva Sangh; Ramjee Rai, Editor, "Janmat"; Anshu Malviya, Utpala Shukla, Prema and Anuradha of Shahri Gareeb Sangharsh Morcha; Harishchandra of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU); ; OD Singh and KK Pale of Daman Virodhi Manch; Avinash of LIC Employees' Union; Krishna Swaroop Anandi of the Azadi bachao Andolan; and Rajesh Sachan of Indian People’s Front.
In a statement, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of people's organizations, said, the activists were even "refused to let them come out of the Allahabad University guest house"; they were "categorically told not proceed to the meeting venue in Kachri village, citing imposition of Sec 144 and fear of violence."
Giving a background, the NAPM said, "For years farmers and farm workers have been protesting against three thermal power plants being constructed within a distance of 20 kms near Allahabad. These plants of 1320 MW each Karchana and Bara (Jaypee) and Bara (NTPC and UP Power Corporation) will together impact more than 20 villages and nearly 5000 families."
Pointing out that "all three projects since beginning have been mired in protests and court cases due to irregularities in land acquisition processes", the NAPM said, the government has "tried to avoid the due process of land acquisition, either by old land acquisition act or the new land act."
"In 2012, deciding a case filed by the project affected families (PAFs) of Karchana Power Plant, the High Court ordered the government to return the forcibly acquired land, give back land, if farmers return the compensation amount, and follow the due procedures for any further land acquisition", NAPM said.
"Farmers have been demanding the implementation of this High Court order; however, the district administration has refused that in complete violation of the order. In fact the authorities have been forcibly seeking consent from the farmers and refusing to implement the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, which would mean seeking of farmers consent for the project, given that two of these are private power projects to be implement by Jaypee group", the NAPM said.
"In fact, within a distance of 60 kms near Allahabad and around six power plants cumulatively amounting for 7000+ MW are to be constructed, all geared towards meeting the demands of the Dedicated Freight Corridor. However, no comprehensive social or environmental impact assessment has been done till date", the NAPM added.
The NAPM said, "Tehsil karchana has been converted in to a police camp for some time now. People have been terrorised and brutalised since September 9 when project affected families of the Karchana power plant were beaten up by police and 42 people, including 13 children put behind bars."
Worse, said the NAPM, "they have been denied bail are being punished for extending support to the resistance by Meja PAFs to forcible acquisition of their land on September 9. Dr Raj Bahadur Patel, leader of Punarvas Kisan Kalyan Evam Sahayata Samiti has been declared absconding and a gangster and any one providing information will be awarded with Rs 12,000."
It further said, "Many of the farmers have been implicated in false charges and their family members are being targeted and harassed since then.Not only this, the district administration in complete violation of all laws have acquired more than 3500+ acres of land, as opposed to the 1100 acres which was needed for the Meja power plant. This includes the Gram Sabha land, forest land, and even Bhoodan land, on which nearly 1000+ labourers were working in the stone quarries."
Demanding that UP Chief Minister Akhilesh yadav should "urgently intervene" and release all the detained activists in Allahabad and also release the protesting farmers who are languishing in jail for more than ten days on "false" charges, the NAPM said, :Action also must be taken against the police officials who used high handed methods and have arrested 12 juveniles and are being kept in prison. Government also must implement the High Court Order and stop all forcible land acquisition in the area immediately."

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