About 30,000 villagers in Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand may lose their land if the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) goes ahead with its plans to acquire nearly 17,000 acres for its coal mining project.
The project, which will affect about 32 villages in the Keredari and Barkagaon block, has met with strong opposition. Villagers alleged that the NTPC authorities had not discussed the issue with them and instead sent “agents” to strike a deal. The NTPC authorities denied the allegation.
The compensation offered by the NTPC was “grossly inadequate,” a local rights activist said.
The public sector company was offering Rs. 20 lakh per acre when the farmers earned nearly Rs. 2 lakh a year just selling vegetables grown on the land. “The villagers are not opposed to the acquisition, but they want adequate compensation,” local activist and lawyer Anirudh Kumar told The Hindu .
The lands in the area were highly fertile and were cultivated three times a year, villagers said.
Coal mining had reportedly started in some forest areas in Chirudi Barwadi village in the Barkagaon block in May. Villagers who resorted to a sit-in demonstration in the Barkagaon block were allegedly assaulted by the police last month.
NTPC Executive Director P.M. Prasad told The Hindu that the villagers were not in fact opposing the land acquisition. “It is some local leaders who are obstructing the project and making baseless allegations about hiring agents and threats,” he said.