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Land acquisition problems cloud on Bengal coal project

Coal News - Published on Tue, 17 Jul 2018

Image Source: The Economic Times
Telegraph India reported that land acquisition problems have cast a shadow of uncertainty on a coalmine project in Bengal's Birbhum, raising the risk of missing a March 2019 launch deadline after which the block must be "surrendered" to the Centre.

The stalemate over the Khagra-Joydeb project, spread over 3,600 acres at Loba in Dubrajpur, came back into focus on Friday when not a single villager turned up at four camps set up by the state government to address the land-owners' concerns. The camps had followed a meeting on June 4 among representatives of landowners, district officials and the Damodar Valley Corporation.

A district official said that "In that meeting, it was decided that officials would go to the villages to check the records of the land-owners, speak to sharecroppers and hear their grievances. But no one turned up at the camps (on Friday).”

In 2012, agitation by the landowners and farmers demanding higher compensation had prompted the erstwhile promoters of the project a joint venture by the DVC and Bengal Emta to leave mid-way. Recently, the state and the DVC awarded sole mining rights in 2014 after the earlier mining lease was cancelled decided to initiate steps to end the impasse.

A senior DVC official said that "We have less than a year left to start mining. If we fail to meet the deadline set by the Union coal ministry, we have to surrender the block.”

Mr Sudhir Mukherjee, chief manager (mechanical) of the DVC, underscored the sense of urgency and said the process of purchasing plots could start only after they were sure that 70 per cent of the land-owners were willing.

The landowners contended that they could not be blamed for skipping Friday's survey. "No farmer will go to the camps till the officials start on-the-spot surveys by visiting each plot," said Joydeep Majumdar, secretary of the Loba Krishi Jami Banchao Committee, which is leading the resistance.

But land officials believe it is tough to meet such a demand.

A land department official said that "It is tough to go to every plot and resolve issues on the spot. But our officials will have to go if the farmers don't turn up at the camps.”

Mr Purnendu Maji, the additional district magistrate who looks after land matters, hoped a breakthrough would be achieved. He said that "There may have been some problems regarding co-ordination between farmers and land officials initially. We will hold meetings with all stakeholders if the problem lingers. We are hopeful of completing our work before the deadline.”

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Posted By : Joykumar Irom on Tue, 17 Jul 2018
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