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

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.