Skip to main content

Jharkhand govt's "forced" land acquisition for Adanis' zero displacement power plant

Yogesh Hembram: One of those who gave testimony before the fact-finding committee
By Siraj Dutta*
With much fanfare, the Jharkhand government signed an MoU with the Adani Group in 2016 to setup a power plant in Godda district. A recent fact-finding visit of members of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, an umbrella network of more than 30 people’s organisations, found that this project has gathered several accolades in the last two years - forceful acquisition of land, severe violation of processes set by land acquisition Act, 2013, bulldozing standing crops of farmers, lying to people about the potential benefits, intimidating affected people with police brutalities, lawsuits and so on.
According to the social impact assessment report of the company, 1,364 acres of land, spread across 10 villages of two blocks of Godda, are to be acquired for the thermal power plant. The plant is to produce 1600 MW of electricity. The government and the company claim that this plant is a public-purpose project with ‘zero’ displacement that will lead to generation of employment and economic development. About 25% of total power produced will be made available to Jharkhand.
The ground realities are far from these claims. According to the land acquisition Act, consent of at least 80% of affected families and permission of the concerned Gram Sabhas are required for acquisition of land for private projects. But most of the adivasi and several non-adivasi landowners are opposed to the project from the beginning. In 2016 and 2017, public hearings for social impact assessment (SIA) and environment impact assessment (EIA) were organised.
Several landowners who were opposed to the plant were not allowed by Adani functionaries and local administration to participate in the hearings. The affected villagers also claim that people of non-affected areas were made to sit in the hearings. In one of these meetings, when affected families had protested against not being allowed to express their views, the police had misbehaved with several women and lathi charged at them.
Others who represented before the committee: Manager Hembram, Ramjeevan Paswan, Radhe Pandit
The social impact assessment report of the company has several factual and constitutional errors such as no technically skilled person in the affected villages, zero displacement, marking all villagers of affected villages as Hindus and so on. It also does not take into account the impact on the sharecroppers.
The report does not mention the other alternatives for the proposed project site. The report is silent on the number of jobs that would be created by this project. Also, neither the video recording of landowners giving their consent for the acquisition nor the signed consent forms are available. It must be mentioned that the Act clearly specifies that affected families do not only include the land owners but also the workers and sharecroppers.
The government has acquired around 500 acres of land in four villages. This includes forceful acquisition of 50 acres of land of 40 families against their wishes. In its attempt to forcefully acquire land, the company with the support of the local police, bulldozed standing crops, several trees, burial ground and pond across 15 acres of land of Manager Hembram and five other adivasi families of Mali village.
While forcefully acquiring land of Motiya village’s Ramjeevan Paswan, Adani functionaries threatened him that he would be buried in his land if he refused to give it to the company (“zameen nahi di to zameen mein gaad denge”). The police refused to lodge his complaint against the functionaries.
When the people of Mali complained to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) against the forceful acquisition of their land without their consent, the DC refused to take any action and instead told the people that since their lands had been acquired, they should just take the compensation. People of the affected villages claim that more than 1000 families will be displaced if land is acquired in all the ten villages.
It will have a direct impact on their livelihoods and survival. Also, for adivasis families, the land is associated with their culture, history and identity, which they do not want to lose at any cost. It must be mentioned that according to section 20 of the Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act, agricultural land in Santhal Pargana area cannot be transferred or acquired for any government or private projects, barring a few exceptions.
According to the environment impact assessment report, 14-18 MT coal will be used by the plant every year. There is little doubt that this will severely affect the local ecosystem. The plant will need 36 MCM water per year which is supposed to be sourced from the local rainfed lifeline, Chir river. This will drain up the limited source in the water-deprived district of Godda.
The power produced in the plant will be supplied to Bangladesh. Even though Adani company is to provide at least 25 percent of total power to Jharkhand, its SIA report does not clearly mention the source from where the company will provide power to the state. A recent news report also exposed how Jharkhand government changed its energy policy in 2016 to buy power from the Adani company at a higher rate which might cost the exchequer more than Rs 7,000 crore in the next 25 years.
It is clear from the inquiry that several laws have been grossly violated by this project till now. The Adani project is yet another example of government prioritising corporate interests at the cost of blatant exploitation of people and their resources. It is not surprising that most of the documents related to the acquisition for this project are not available on the district administration’s website, as mandated by the Act. Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, on behalf of all the constituent organisations and activists, demands the following:
  • Implementation of the illegal project be immediately stopped, acquisition of land for the plant be stopped and illegally acquired land be given back.
  • Since this project has violated several constitutional provisions and laws, a judicial inquiry of the project be undertaken and legal action be taken against the Adani company and responsible officials for the exploitation of people
  • All affected families to be compensated for the loss in crops and livelihoods
---
*With Jharkhand Janadikar Mahasabha. Click HERE for video testimonies before the fact-finding committee 

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.