Mahaveer Energy and Coal Benefication Limited (MECBL) a subsidiary of Mahaveer group of companies (http://mcwpl.com/site/group.php) in Chhattisgarh, has set up a 12 MW biomass power plant in Bhengari village of Raigarh district. Apart from this power plant, Mahaveer group also operates a 540 MW thermal power plant in the same village and will soon be setting up a coal washery unit here. It is alleged that between 2009 and 2015, the group acquired land from the tribespeople living in the region through forgery. Reportredly, the agents of the company coerced Bhengari residents to sell their land. An Amnesty International correspondent spoke to Kalamati Rathia, an adivasi woman from Benghari village, who said: I had two acres of farmland at village Bhengari which I got from my father. A middleman for Mahaveer frequently visited us and compelled us to sell our land. One day along with other villager, they took me to another persons house where they took my signature and gave me 2,000 Rupees. We thought that the company had purchased our land, but the sale deed listed someone elses name as a purchaser. Similar incidents of forgery were reported from the nearby villages where another company TRN energy used threats and intimidation to displace tribals off their lands. This led to village assemblies in the affected villages issue a resolution against these companies in 2015 and 2016. The resolution said that their lands had been purchased through fraud and coercion.
Complaints of affected residents and activists in the region highlighted the issue at various levels of the government. On 9 May 2017, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes directed the district administration of Raigarh to take action under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in cases where adivasi land was transferred to other people through forgery. The order followed recent allegations that over 300 acres (121 hectares) of adivasi land had been unlawfully transferred to nonadivasis in Raigarh between 2009 and 2015. On 14 June 2017, 150 adivasi individuals from four villages in Raigarh district came together at the districts Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare (Special) Police station to submit criminal complaints against MECBL and TRN energy under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA). These complaints have been accepted but an FIR will be lodged only after the preliminary enquiry to determine if a cognizable offence had been committed or not.
Amnesty international India wrote to TRN Energy on 27 April 2017 and to MECBL on 3 May 2017 seeking their response to the allegations of Adivasi communities. The companies have not responded to date. The farmers whose land was taken by forgery and without any compensation, demand that their land should be returned to them. Some farmers who land was acquired at low prices, damand that they should be given better compensation.