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

Reported by

Mitali Biswas

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

March 16, 2021

March 16, 2021

Updated on

March 16, 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

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

379

ha

Starting Year

2015

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.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised compensation

Demand for promised land

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Farm labourers have not received wages for 500 days' work

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Constitutional Law, Other, Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957
Section 4 [Preliminary notification respecting intention to prospect for coal in any area and powers of competent authorities thereupon]; Section 7 [Power to acquire land or rights in or over land notified under Section 4]; Section 8 [Objections to acquisition]; Section 12 [Power to take possession of land acquired]; Section 14 [Method of determining compensation]; Section 17 [Payment of compensation]
Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015
This Act was in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order dated September 24, 2014, which cancelled the allocation of coal blocks and issued directions with regard to allocation of these coal blocks. Section 3(1)(q) [This defines “Schedule II coal mines” as the 42 Schedule I coal mines listed in Schedule II, which are the coal mines in relation to which the order of the Supreme Court was made]; Section 8 [A vesting order or an allotment order will be issued to transfer upon the new successful bidder any statutory approval or consent already issued to the prior allottee. This implies that the Environmental Clearance granted to the prior allottee would also be transferred to the successful bidder]; Section 21(2) [Acquisition of land - All such areas of land that are not the subject matter of land acquisition proceedings under LARR 2013 may be proceeded with by the Central government in terms of the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957. This implies that the farmers will not be eligible to claim more compensation under the LARR Act 2013 as the land acquisition is not subject to this law]; Schedule II, which lays down the list of Schedule II coal mines, includes Trans Damodar under Point 42]
Constitution of India, 1950
Article 226 [Writ petition was filed under this Article to pray for a writ of Mandamus to direct the authorities to give the petitioners permanent employment as trained and skilled coal mining workers]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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:

No items found.

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Calcutta High Court

Case Number

W.P. No. 3775 (W) of 2018

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Financial harassment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Farm laborers have not received wages for 500 days' work since 2015.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Paharpur

Nature of Protest

Blockades

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Refusal of compensation

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

District magistrate of Bankura

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

The Durgapur Projects Limited (DPL)

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

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.

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Trans Damodar Coal Mining (P) Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Centre of Indian Trade Unions

Resources Related to Conflict

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

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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