A yatra to highlight looting of land

Companies will pay a pittance as compensation to extract coal in Hazaribagh

By Sugandh Juneja
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Badkagaon in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand became the centre of an important movement on September 30. It was the culmination of the zameen bachao rath yatra.

The yatra, which aimed to apprise the residents of Badkagaon and Keredari blocks in Hazaribagh about the pitfalls of giving their land to coal mining and thermal power companies, began on September 21.  

According to the data provided by one of the key organisations of the movement, Aazadi Bachao Aandolan, the coal mining companies will acquire 5,740 hectares (ha) of land in the blocks, paying a compensation of only Rs 1,420 crore. But they will extract coal worth Rs 640,000 crore. Similarly, captive coal mines are set to acquire 11,000 ha of land in the two blocks. For this, the companies will pay only Rs 2,705 crore as compensation. They will extract coal worth Rs 790,000 crore.

Led by a team of 15 people from different organisations, the yatra covered 84 villages in the two blocks. The meeting that marked the end of the yatra was attended by scores of people not only from these 84, villages but also from Dhanbad, Bokaro and Ranchi. “The loot of land in the area should stop. The land including the wealth under it is ours, we will decide whether we want to give it or not,” says Deepak Das, one of the leaders of the movement. “We do not mind development, but it should be without displacement, else we do not want industries,” he adds. 

Deepak informs that companies are employing agents in the state these days to help them acquire land. The agents are usually local people who act as property brokers. They buy land from people and then sell it to the company for a huge margin. He thinks it is important to form committees in all villages, to start with, to keep the agents away.

Raju Kumar of Salga village in Keredari block did not know about the rath yatra. But he agrees with the fact that agents are at work and that they should be stopped. “We want employment and hence we welcome companies but once our land goes we are left with nothing.” He alleges that companies in the area dupe people on the pretext of high compensation money and employment, but do not provide any. 

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