Tribals in West Bengal Demand Fair Compensation for Land Acquired for Mining

Reported by

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

January 19, 2021

Location of Conflict

DeuchaPachami, Dewanganj, Harisinga

,

Birbhum

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Coal Mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

21000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

607

ha

State

West Bengal

Sector

Mining

In West Bengal's Birbhum district, underneath Mohammad Bazar block, sits the world's second-largest coal block, with an estimated reserve of 2.1 billion metric tonnes. Villagers claim that about 35 years ago, the then Left Front government of the state had acquired 484 acres of the block. A major portion of the acquired land falls under the Deucha-Pachami-Hinglo-Bharkata-Kapistha village panchayats. Around 30 tribal villages exist on the land, with 80-90 tribal families residing in each village. Since 2015, the Trinamool Congress-led government in the state had been pursuing a project to conduct mining in the coal block, along with the state governments of Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and a power generation company, Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited. It had also said that it was inviting international tenders to facilitate mining by experienced agencies. However, by 2016, the other states had backed out and after two years of deliberation at the Centre, the sole responsibility of overseeing the project was given to West Bengal and Bengal Birbhum Coalfields Limited. The Rs. 12,000-crore project is anticipated to generate employment for close to one lakh residents of the coal block area. The first phase of the mining project requires 1,000 acres of land. Of this, 50-60 acres happens to be single-cropped area. The rest is fallow and rocky. The project is estimated to displace 10,000-12,000 tribals in Mohammad Bazar coal block. Additionally, 6,000-7,000 people in the surrounding areas are likely to be affected. During the land acquisition process, the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation promised to give adequate compensation to the affected people. When the compensation was set at Rs 22,500 per year, the affected families protested, demanding a higher amount. They also came together and refused to part with their land. Meanwhile, the tribal families whose lands have already been acquired for the mining project are also demanding proper compensation, rehabilitation and jobs. On May 15, 2019, Land Conflict Watch spoke to Sunil Soren, leader of the tribal organisation Birbhum Adivasi Gaota, who said that of the 484 acres acquired by the government, mining has already begun on 84 acres of land, which is estimated to displace 5,000 villagers.

Region Classification

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

12000

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

607

ha

Starting Year

1970

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Left Front (till 2011), All India Trinamool Congress

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Bengal Birbhum Coalfields Limited

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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