West Bengal Government Changes Plan for Power Grid in Bhangar Following Protests

Reported by

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

August 5, 2021

Location of Conflict

Bhangar

South 24 Parganas

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Transmission Lines

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1440

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

5

ha

Starting Year

2013

State

West Bengal

Sector

Power

In 2013, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government acquired 13 acres of land from farmers in Block 2 of Bhangar in South 24 Parganas near Rajarhat Township. The land was acquired under the controversial Land Acquisition Act, 1894, a day before the Parliament passed the new Land Acquisition Bill, 2013. The people living in villages around Bhangar had been given little or no information about the acquisition of land for transmission lines for a 440/220KV power grid. The villagers claim that there was no clarity on the nature of the project, nor any option with the villagers to object to it. They were neither shown any social impact assessment or environment impact assessment report. In 2016, protesters from Khamarait, Machhi Bhanga, Tona and Gazipur villages formed a committee to protect their land, livelihood and environment, called the Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Paribesh Raksha Committee (Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment Protection Committee). On January 17, 2017, two protesters, Mafijul Sheikh and Alamgir Khan, were killed in Bhangar during police action. The deaths were followed by more protests, which later spread to Kolkata. Police arrested many protesters, along with civilians and members of organisations who showed solidarity. Many farmers and village heads were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. In 2018, the protesters decided to contest the panchayat election in Bhangar. During the election campaign, a youth named Hafijul Mollah was killed. The villagers believed it to be the mastermind of local TMC heavyweight Arabul Islam. He was arrested and later released on bail. After the panchayat polls in May 2018, the state government came to an agreement with the villagers. The government assured them through a notice of the District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas that the state would propose a new plan for the power grid, bringing down the number of transmission lines from 16 to four: two 400 KV lines from the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and two 220 KV lines from the West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company. The government also promised increased compensation and jobs to those whose land had been acquired for the project as well as to the families of the deceased protesters. The district magistrate also ordered the state to withdraw all criminal cases against the protesters and called on the police to act against those who had attacked the protesters. Following this, the stalemate over the project ended. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the officials to speed up the work before any further problem emerges in the area.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project, Complaint against procedural violations

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1200

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

Yes

When did it end?

August, 2018

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

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:

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Killing, Physical attack, Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

On January 17, 2017, two protesters, Mafijul Sheikh and Alamgir Khan, were killed in Bhangar during police action. The deaths were followed by more protests, which later spread to Kolkata. Police arrested many protesters, along with civilians and members of organisations who showed solidarity. Many farmers and village heads were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. In 2018, a local youth who was going to contest local panchayat elections was killed.

Date of Violation

December 28, 2017

Location of Violation

Bhangar

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches, Development of a network or collective action , Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

West Bengal government

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL)

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Mitali Biswas

Reviewed By

Mitali Biswas

Updated By

Mitali Biswas

Edited By

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch
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