In February 2017, Vedanta announced its plan to set up a one-metric-tonne-per-annum steel plant in Manoharpur block in West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand. According to its submission to the environment ministry, the plant requires a total of 439.09 acres of land, of which 398.08 acres is private land and the rest is government land. At a village assembly meeting in October 2017, the residents of Dimbuli village, raised their objections to the project on the ground that a large part of the land set to be acquired is residential and agricultural land. In April 2018, they submitted an application to the sub-divisional officer, requesting for the project to be scrapped. Over the next six months, they continued to write to the administration reiterating their demands. "Mining and industries have brought no development to this area. We have seen the condition of neighbouring areas; any development project has only left the people worse off," Lal Mohan, the village head, told Land Conflict Watch when asked about Vedanta's promise of employment to the people in the area. He also added that the project area includes places of worship and a burial ground and that acquiring the land would be a violation of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908, which prohibits transfer of land to non-tribals and safeguards community worship. However, in its submission to the environment ministry in June 2018, Vedanta had said that the project area did not include any place of worship. In November 2018, a public hearing was organised for the project. Thousands of people gathered with banners opposing the land acquisition and also raised concerns about the impact of pollution that the plant would cause. RTI applications filed by the residents of Dimbuli have revealed that of the 398.08 acres of private land for the project, 110.53 acres of land was purchased by iron producer V.S Dempo in 2009, before it was bought over by Vedanta the same year. According to the terms of the agreement, the consent for using the land was valid for a period of five years. Since the plant was not set up within the stipulated time, we want this land to be returned.
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Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation
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