Are “Gram Sabhas” a Mere Show by the Government

28 February 2012, Jamtada
On 28 February the first halt of the journey was at village Nihijam of Jamtada district where a meeting had been organised by the ‘Badlao Foundation’ and ‘Sajha Manch’. Shri Pradip Kumar of ‘Sajha Manch’ said that in 1954 construction of the Maithan Dam on river Damodar led to the displacement of 40 villages. The families of these displaced villages were not given compensation as per the terms in writing. He said that the dam meant for irrigation and hydal power generation is now being seen as a resource for industrial units. In the Goda region the government of Jharkhand has signed MoUs with more than 25 coal mining and power plant corporations. Road construction work is on at full throttle to enable transport of coal from Gobindpur, he added. Illegal coal mining is also on in the Nala region of Jamtada. He further added that none of the Gram Sabhas were asked their opinion on the setting up of these mining and power units and the industrial units have been given land in violation of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. Subsequently a meeting was held at village Dumaria by ‘Ekta Mahila Manch’ and ‘Sajha Manch’. Gram Panchayat member Smt Bimla Soren said that the project for road construction linking Dumka, Pakod and Sahabganj has been sanctioned for one reason only and that is to promote coal mining in the Santhal Pargana region. She said that currently more than 20 coal and power companies are involved in purchasing land for their projects through middlemen and touts. Gram Sabhas have passed written resolutions against acquisition of agriculture land for the projects but putting these objections aside the government has acquired more than 100 acres of agriculture land in village Dumaria alone. Shri Ajane Hembram said that in 1967 Bhoodan land was distributed to 56 families in the village but till date there has been no registration or demarcation of the land and leading to feelings of immense anger among the local people.

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