Skip to main content

More than 2,000 West Bengal rural families face eviction following opencast mining project in Raniganj area

By Ashok Shrimali*
Proposed opencast mining by the Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) around several of the villages that form Kenda gram panchayat – Kenda, South Kenda, Saldanga, Ban Dhowra, Jhanti Ban, Mandol Para, Majh Para, Konda Koli and Bauri Para – is threatening to evict around 2,035 families living in the Raniganj coalfield area of West Bengal.
Already, large-scale blasting within the 500 metres distance from the residential areas, schools and village roads has taken place following an ECL survey, which is said to have found a huge reserve of quality coal below the surface of Kenda village. Plans are for a mega opencast project, approved by the Coal India Limited.
People of the area fear, as a result of this project, agricultural land, water bodies, trees and other vegetation will be destroyed, and groundwater may deplete. They are already being compelled to leave from the place of their living.
To fight their predicament, they have formed the Kenda Gram Rakha Samiti. It has submitted a memorandum to the ECL, saying that the villagers would have no other option but to thwart all the ECL efforts for going ahead with the proposed mega project.
As the demand for a complete rehabilitation package for each of the 2,035 families, who will be affected by the proposed West Kenda OCP Mega Project, is finding increasing support in the region, the ECL management has chosen the path of repression, targeting the weaker sections of the villagers to evacuate the homestead land.
The ECL is particularly targeting 570 scheduled caste and tribal families reside at Saldanga, Ban Dhowra, Jhanti Ban, Mandol Para, Majh Para, KondaKoli, and Bauri villages. Some of these families reside on patta land, while others live on wasteland.
Meanwhile, the ECL has adopted a new policy. The General Manager of Kenda Area, ECL, has given permission to start the West Kenda Opencast Extension Project within a year close to the New Kenda underground pithead and No 3 Dhowra and Muchipara.
Blasting has been taking just about 30 to 50 meters from some of the residential areas. Houses vibrate during plasts, cracks have developed on the walls of 90 percent of the houses. The ceilings of 10 houses have collapsed, and six houses have been completely destroyed.
Blasting, as a rule, cannot take place within 500 metres distance of the residential area, school, roads and other constructions.
Already, mass mobilization against displacement staring on the face of the people face of and illegal blasting activity by ECL in the Raniganj coalfield area, is taking place. A rally protest rally was organized at Asansol by several mass organizations, trade unions and civil rights on February 5. A representation was given to the additional district magistrate, demanding early solution to the people’s problems.
Said Sudipta Paul and Sipra Chakraborty, belonging to the NGO Adhikar, which is working in the area, “It is not just the people who are under the Kenda gram panchayat, but also of some other villages – especially Harishpur, Madhabpur, Belbandh, Mohonpur, Pahargara, Naba Kajora in the Raniganj coalfield region – who find their has turned unsafe for human habitation.”
“In all”, they said, “There are 139 unstable areas of in the Raniganj coalfields region. The ECL management is becoming more and more aggressive to displace the people living in the coal bearing area for years without any proper rehabilitation.”
---
*Senior Gujarat-based activist. General secretary, mines, minerals & People (mm&P)

Comments

TRENDING

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.