Tribespeople Protest against Illegal Land Acquisition for Railway Siding in Chhattisgarh Village

Reported by

Riddhi Pandey

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017

Updated on

January 20, 2017

Location of Conflict

Kunkuni

Raigarh

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Railways

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

326

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

19

ha

Starting Year

2016

State

Chhattisgarh

Sector

Infrastructure

The residents of Kunkuni village have opposed the construction of a railway siding planned to pass through Kharsia block in Raigarh district. Villagers have claimed procedural violations in seeking consent through public hearings and unlawful acquisition of their agricultural lands.  The railway siding of approximately 15 kilometres is to transport coal from a 1,200 megawatt thermal power plant located in Baradarha village in Janjhgir Champa district. The plant operators, DB Power Limited (DBPL), a subsidiary of the Dainik Bhaskar Group, also undertook the railway line construction. The project is estimated to affect 68 farmers and require 45.87 acres of land. But tribal communities have been opposing the project since 2016.  The district administration organised the first public hearing on June 29, 2016. But the village residents claimed that there was no prior announcement of the hearing. According to them, the administration briefly displayed posters only for documentation. Reportedly, many of the affected villagers were not allowed to enter the heavily policed premise for the public hearing, and only a few could voice their concerns about the project. They have also raised concerns over the cutting of 546 trees for constructing the railway siding.  A second public hearing was organised on January 5, 2017. But this time too the people reported similar violations and held protests with the support of local leaders. They also submitted a petition to the Sub Divisional Magistrate demanding the cancellation of the public hearing and accused the administration of favouring private players.  The discontent of the tribespeople primarily stemmed from the inaction of the administration against the illegal acquisition of 300 acres of land by another private company, Saptarishi Infra Tech Estate. While the district administration had concluded multiple inquiries since 2015 leading to proof of fraudulent practices and registered 73 cases, it failed to take any formidable action. Reportedly, the villagers affected in the railway siding project feared losing their land to illicit practices of the middlemen and DBPL, which would deprive them of compensation. They also raised concerns over the low rate of compensation and cited the higher rates offered for the construction of a national highway in the same vicinity, reported a local daily.  In March 2017, the death of local tribal rights activist Jailal Raithiya drew attention to the allegations of land scams in the village. The people claimed that Raithiya was murdered as he had recently filed a petition in the high court exposing the 300acre land scam.  This led to the involvement of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). In May 2017, the Commission addressed the allegations in the projects of coal washery, railway siding as well as unlawful land transfers to nontribal people and Benami land plots in Kunkuni village. It ordered the concerned authorities to take action and also directed to return the land to rightful tribal owners, distribute compensation and act against the violators and book the offenders under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.  According to an August 2017 NCST report, DBPL was accused of using force and destroying farmlands to compel the villagers to give up their landholdings. Meanwhile, the company continued to construct the railway line even as the administration directed it to halt the construction multiple times. On April 10, 2018, the villagers sat on a hunger strike to protest multiple instances of illegal land acquisition. They submitted a memorandum with 10 demands to the district administration. According to local news reports, in July, the chief minister intervened and directed the administration to investigate the matter. He also requested the villagers to end the protests, which lasted for 176 days.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for compensation

Refusal to give up land for the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand to get back acquired land

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

N/A

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 5 [Requirement to conduct public hearing for Social Impact Assessment]; Section 16 [Preparation of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Scheme by the administrator]; Section 21 [Notice to persons interested]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(i) [Gram Sabha or Panchayat to be consulted before acquisition of any land in Scheduled Areas]; Section 4(m) [Panchayats and Gram Sabhas to be empowered with ownership of minor forest produce, and power to control local plans and resources]
Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Sections 4(1) [State government is required to publish a preliminary notification through two daily newspapers for any land acquired under this Act]; Section 5A [Affected persons can submit their objections in writing to the District Collector and have a right to be heard]; Section 6(1) [State government is required to declare, after hearing objections, that the particular land is required for public purpose]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Violation of free prior informed consent

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Incorrect estimation of compensation

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Killing

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

A tribal farmer and activist, Jailal Raithiya, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. He had filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh high court against the illegal acquisition in the village.

Date of Violation

March 17, 2017

Location of Violation

Kunkuni Village

Nature of Protest

Objections as part of official procedures

Hunger strike

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

State Government of Chhattisgarh

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

DB Power Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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