Fights for Adivasi land right in Torpa and Kamdara and land acquisition by ArcelorMittal
The battle lines seem to be getting drawn between Anti- and Pro- Arcellor Mittal's proposed Steel Plant in Torpa-Kamdara area of Khunti Jharkhand. This is an extremely interesting development in light of the yesterday's pull-out of Tata's from Singur Nano Project in Wesr Bengal and Bhushan and Kohinoor Steel Officials treated badly and manhandled by the Villagers in Jharkhand. Read the details in the Fwd msg below.
Ranchi, Oct. 1: Congress MP Sushila Kerketta today convened a meeting of villagers from Torpa and Kamdara to pave the way for the ArcelorMittal's greenfield project in the state in an effort to avoid a repeat of the infamous Potka episode, where some Bhushan Steel officials on a land recce were manhandled last month.
But the tension between the anti-displacement and pro-industry groups was palpable during the meet held at the behest of ArcelorMittal and the state industries department. Around 40km away from the meet site, Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch activists squatted on the road to prevent vehicles transporting villagers towards Khunti. Social activist Dayamani Barla, who is spearheading the movement against land acquisition for the ArcelorMittal project, led the demonstration.
Undeterred by the protest, Kerketta, the first politician in the state to openly back an industry house, held parleys with villagers for at least four hours at her Khunti residence.
Visibly happy after the meeting, Kerketta told The Telegraph: "The villagers of Torpa-Kamdara and officials of ArcelorMittal have been requesting me to organise a meeting for a one-to-one discussion on the company's resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) plan in the area. Some people were coming between the company and villagers, which I tried to avoid by organising this meeting."
Over 100 villagers eager to know what the company and the government would offer them in lieu of their plots attended the meet.
ArcelorMittal's general manager (mines) P.S. Prasad represented the steel major, while deputy secretary in state industries department A.K. Mishra represented the government. After returning to the state capital, Prasad said the response of the villagers was positive as far as land acquisition is concerned.
"We provided them all the facts about the proposed project and told them that the company would follow the state government's R&R policy in toto. The biggest achievement is that for the fist time we managed to hold talks with villagers. The company also respects the feelings of Barla and we want a dialogue with her as well," Prasad said.
The social activist, however, termed the meet "stage-managed".
Barla said: "The villagers did not attend the meeting willingly. Kerketta and her henchmen sent four-wheelers to ferry villagers to the meeting site. But the vehicles were returned. Few villagers, who are either businessmen or acting as brokers, reached Khunti for the meeting by their two-wheelers," she claimed.
Land acquisition appears to be the biggest hurdle before industrialisation in the state.
Three Bhushan Steel officials were manhandled at Potka in East Singhbhum while they were on a land recce. Police remained mute spectator.
Discontent over land acquisition is brewing among villagers even as the state has proposed a liberal R&R policy. Communication gap between the masses and the administration has been blamed for the unruly scenes.
Today's meeting was an effort of the government to explain villagers the plans they charted out for the people losing land.
The ArcelorMittal's earlier effort to hold a meeting with the villagers in Kamdara block proved futile as nobody turned up.
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