Why Are Villages the Only Victims of Displacement?

25 February 2012, Giridih

On 25 February the first halt of the journey was at village Dwarpehri of Giridih district where a meeting had been organised by ‘Janghosh Manch’. Shri Narayan Pandey of village Jaurasako said that about 13 acres of land was acquired by the Indian Railways for the construction of a railway station in the village and construction work had begun but recently the people of the village were informed that due to political pressure the site for the station has been changed to a place 5k.m away from the village.The villagers have been sitting in protest dharna against this order for the past 25 days. He said that the people who lost their land in the acquisition received a pittance for their land as compensation and now they are likely to loose the benefits of having a railways station in the village. Besides this the government has banned the sale-purchase of all land in the region and the people believe that this is an indication that this is a government ploy to give land to the companies.He further added that all the villagers have asked the government for the railway station in their village through an application but the government is yet to give any response to their request.

The second halt of the day was at village Paniadih of Giridih district where a public meeting had been organised by the ‘Dalit Manch’, ‘Pragati Kendra’ and ‘Sajha Manch’. Addressing the meeting Shri Ramdev Deshbandhu of ‘Dalit Manch’ said that the land acquired in and around Paniadif for Central Coal Field actually belonged to the tribal and dalit families that had been cultivating it for over 200 years. As soon as coal mining by the company commenced the villages were asked to shift to another site but a local movement opposing this move was started with the support of ‘Jharkand Mukti Morcha’ and other people’s organisations.The people raised their voice against displacement and asked for ownership rights in the mines. Shri Sudeep Thakur of ‘Jharkhand Mukti Morch’ said that recently in a judgment the Supreme Court of India had ordered the government to remove the encroachment by the company on the tribal and dalit lands and the government should be held accountable on the charge of contempt of court.Not only is the government violating a court order it is also guilty of not informing the people of their rights under the rehabilitation policy and this, he said, is a major reason for the rising violence in the region. Member of the Zilla Panchayat Smt Pramila Behra said that Central Coal Field Ltd was given a 99 years lease by the government but the company continues to mine even after the lapse of this lease. In this context the villagers had asked the government to ensure that the company fulfills its promises of rehabilitation, compensation and employment before their lease is renewed. She further said that on the one hand mining by the company has destroyed more 5000 acres of land belonging to the people across 15 villages without any provision for compensation and on the other hand the company has been able to provide employment to only 10% of the people who are eligible to get jobs. Shri Farid Bhai of Paniadih said that his family was also displaced for the mines and only one person received employment while in his village alone there are more than 120 families who have not received any job or compensation from the company.He added that it has been found that Giridih city is located on a large reserve of coal but fearing urban unrest and opposition the government has not yet given permission for mining. Why are only villages displaced for mining and other development projects, he asked. He announced that ‘Paniadih Sangharsh Samiti’ would give full support for Jansatyagrah 2012. Shri Parmeshwar Gome of village Akdoni Khurd said that coal mining in the region has affected more than 80,000 families of 70 villages. He further said that he has records going back five generations to prove that all this land belonged to the tribal communities and that the land had been leased, on an understanding reached with the traditional tribal panchayat, for 99 years. Since the lease is over the land should be returned to its original owners so that they can negotiate fresh terms of business if at all they wish to do so.

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