Workers Demand Wages from DPL for Trans Damodar Colliery in West Bengal

Reported by

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

May 14, 2021

Location of Conflict

Barjora town

,

Shalgara, Gokul Mathura, Kishoripur, Jaisinghpura, Chunpura and Paharpur villages

Bankura

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Coal Mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

2500

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

379

ha

State

West Bengal

Sector

Mining

The Bankura Trans Damodar coal mine, built in 2005 and owned by the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation, was shut down in 201415 following the coal scam. In 2015, the coal mine was taken over by The Durgapur Projects Limited (DPL) at a bid price of INR 150 crore, along with bank guarantee. The coal mine is spread over 379 hectares across Shalgara, Chunpura, Gokul Mathura, Kishoripur, Jaisinghpura and Paharpur villages.** DPL has now decided to purchase another 597 hectares.  Speaking on behalf of the residents of Paharpur village, Sandeep Pobey, secretary of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), told LCW that farm labourers have not received their wages for 500 days of work as promised and that the colliery had damaged their farm lands by dumping soil on it. Chunpura village falls within 100 metres of the coal mine. According to resident Nidhuram Karar, the drainage system of the village has allegedly been damaged by waterlogging due to soil dumping from the colliery. Several protests have been organised in the village to date. He mentioned that the farmers had demanded a compensation of INR 27,000 per acre of crop, amounting to a total of INR 81,000 and that it be given to them in one installment from 2014 to 2019. Pobey estimates the area of damaged land at 50 acres, whereas DPL claims it to be around 33 acres, but a proper evaluation is yet to be done. Due to repeated protests, several meetings have been arranged with the district magistrate officer. On September 10, 2020, in a tripartite meeting between the residents of the five villages mentioned above, DPL authorities and the district magistrate of Bankura, it was decided that the revised rate of compensation – INR 64,000 per year per acre of crop would be given to the owners of the affected land for five consecutive years from 2015 to 2020. It was also decided that DPL would take immediate steps to lay hume pipes in Paharpur and other villages for the purpose of draining rainwater outside the mining area and would compensate land owners for the nonacquired land that was used to dump soil from the construction work from 2015 to 2020. However, the affected people have demanded that DPL should extend their compensation period to 2021 and should also purchase this land. The company soon started paying compensation, but around 44 people have not received their money. DPL attributes this to lack of original papers and absence of ownership of the heir, which are mere excuses as claimed by the residents, who continue to protest. Another complaint of the village residents is the nonpayment of wages to those who work at the coal mine. Residents have alleged unfulfilled promises of employment, rehabilitation and compensation by DPL. The state continued to pay each worker INR 12,800 per month when the colliery was inactive from 2015 to 2019, **but discontent began to grow as soon as preparations for coal extraction started. From 2015 onwards, BMS has been demanding that the wage of INR 18,000 should be paid to the workers directly by the DPL authorities. These wages are currently paid by the Trans Damodar Coal Mining (P) Limited. The workers have organised multiple protests to assert their demands. At least 78 out of 450 labourers have not accepted payment for the last 62 months as mark of protest. They have now demanded that the DPL authorities compensate for the last 62 months and pay them their due wages. In 2018, the workers had filed a writ petition at the Calcutta High Court but later withdrew it as the district magistrate assured them that they would arrive at a mutual understanding. However, after a few meetings, the matter is yet to be settled. The workers continue to protest at the site of the coal mine. Swagata Mitra, public relations officer for DPL, told LCW that the colliery stands on 380 acres of land and that compensation against land acquisition has been provided. "Workers have started to receive their wages as work has begun in the colliery. However, farm labourers have not received wages for 500 days' work because DPL has not received the authorised list of the number of farm labourers from the district magistrate." Mitra also refuted the claim that the flooding of surrounding villages was due to water flowing from the colliery and added that DPL has nothing to do in the matter.  Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujoy Chowdhury, meanwhile, told LCW that they had prepared a list of 21,000 beneficiaries to receive wages and sent it to the district magistrate, but the government has not taken any action.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

379

ha

Starting Year

2015

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised compensation, Demand for promised land

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

District magistrate of Bankura

Swagata Mitra, public relations officer for DPL, told LCW that the colliery stands on 380 acres of land and that compensation against land acquisition has been provided. "Workers have started to receive their wages as work has begun in the colliery. However, farm labourers have not received wages for 500 days' work because DPL has not received the authorised list of the number of farm labourers from the district magistrate." Mitra refuted the claim that the flooding of surrounding villages was due to water flowing from the colliery and added that DPL has nothing to do in the matter.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Trans Damodar Coal Mining (P) Limited

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Centre of Indian Trade Unions

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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