West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that work on the proposed Deocha Pachami coal block will start only after rehabilitation of the 4,000 people -- 40% of them tribal population -- living in that area.
“We will not rush through the project and will take the people into confidence before commencing work,” Ms. Banerjee told reporters at the State Secretariat, while formally announcing the mining project. She said that a Memorandum of Understanding between the Centre and State government on the project will be signed next week.
Deocha Pachami, located in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, has an inferred reserve of 2.1 billion tons and is among the biggest coal deposits in the world. Three years ago, West Bengal was declared the sole allotee of the block by the Centre.
She assured that the people residing in the area need not fear. “We will take the responsibility of these families. As long as rehabilitation work is not started we will not commence work on the project,” she said.
“We are setting up a committee under the Chief Secretary which will take three to four months to complete the survey and other works. Then I will speak to them so that people can be taken into confidence,” the Chief Minister said.
Ms. Banerjee said that it will take five years for the project to come to fruition and the coal reserves will increase the earnings of West Bengal and also the Government of India. An employment of about one lakh people will be generated, she added. She also added that work for environment impact assessment and air pollution will start in the region after taking people into confidence.