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

Reported by

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

December 18, 2020

Location of Conflict

Bhangar Polerhat Gram Panchayat

,

South 24 Parganas

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Transmission Lines

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1440

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

5

ha

State

West Bengal

Sector

Power

In 2013, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal 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 learnt that the land was acquired for building 16 transmission lines for a 440/220KV power grid. Reports emerged of possible health and environmental hazards posed by the electromagnetic field of a high-voltage power grid. The farmers panicked and began to organise protests every now and then. 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. 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 this year, the state government came to an agreement with the committee. The government assured the village residents 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 compensation 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. Meanwhile, some people associated with the protests believe that the committee should arrange a public hearing to take into account the view of all the parties involved.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1200

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

5

ha

Starting Year

2014

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

West Bengal government

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL)

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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