Villagers of the Jugra village, Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand have alleged that their lands have been acquired forcefully by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to build a supply route to its Pakri Barwadih mine. Alleging that the NTPC violated the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the villagers on December 1, wrote to the district administration.
This tussle between the locals and NTPC is not new. The issue has been in existence since 2004 when NTPC allegedly carried out a secret survey in 28 villages in Barkagaon district to acquire land, as reported by Down To Earth.
The project affects close to 8,000 families in the villages of Hazaribagh district and this is not the first time the villagers are protesting against NTPC. In 2016, police firing on Anti-mining protestors at Badkagaon, Hazaribagh killed four people. Much outrage was caused then. However, with passing time, the attention of the media and public has diluted even as the troubles and struggles faced by the affected villagers continue.
A resident of Jugra village, Satyanarayan Kumar told Down To Earth that huge trucks are transporting coal through roads built on lands of villagers even as they have not willingly given the land. Kumar also alleges that this has caused severe pollution in the village.
Not just Jugra, but other villages like Banka are also distressed by the project. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Zila Parishad member, Priyanka Kumari said, “Sacks filled with coals are daily dumped in the village. The land has been converted to a coal-dumping yard. This has created extreme pollution. One cannot step out even for a morning walk.”
Explaining the whole issue, Priyanka says there is a foul play with the villagers. Reportedly, villagers gave up their lands for the construction of railway tracks, hoping to get better connectivity. “However, Indian Railways failed to obtain clearance from the pollution board. It was given that the land would now go back to the villagers, however, this land was transferred to NTPC.”
Reportedly, between 2004-07, the company carried out survey secretly in 28 villages in Barkagaon block to acquire land.
Compensation to villagers
The compensation given to the villagers has also come under the scanner. There are two types of land, on the basis of ownership – one is raiyyat(land owned) and gair mazrua(common). Compensation has been provided for the raiyyat land. In Jugra village, Rs 20 lakh per 0.404 ha of raiyyat land has been given. While this compensation has been deemed paltry, there is no compensation for the gair mazrua land.
Ex-MP of Ranchi, Subodh Kant Sahay, who has worked extensively for the rights of villagers affected told The Logical Indian, “For some of the residents, their family has been working since generations on these gair mazrua land. They have no or almost nil compensation. The government has also failed miserably in providing proper rehabilitation in the gross violation of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Not only this but the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act), 2006 has also been violated.” He adds that about 60,000 people have been affected.
NTPC has not responded to The Logical Indian’s mail asking for clarity on the issue. However, while speaking to Down To Earth, NTPC said that no homestead land has been acquired. NTPC added that the majority of the work has been done on the land obtained from government, so “question of forcible acquisition does not arise”, said NTPC.