Tribals drum up protest in front of East Singhbhum deputy commissioner’s office in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The Nagri embers yet to die down, another tribal agitation over land rocked Jamshedpur on Friday.
Traffic went haywire as over 1,000 tribals under the banner of Visthapith Virodhi Ekta Manch staged a massive dharna in front of East Singhbhum DC’s office around 12.30pm in protest against the decision to hand over 110 acres of government land in Potka to Jindal Steel and Power Limited for its greenfield project.
The protesters’ main grouse was that the government ought to have taken the gram sabhas into confidence before deciding to hand over the land to Jindal Steel. Heads of 16 gram sabhas from Potka block took part in the agitation.
“Though the land in question belongs to the state, the local administration should have consulted the gram sabhas. The area falls under the 5th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, and as per constitutional provisions, even the state government will have to take consent of gram sabhas for any decision pertaining to land acquisition,” said Visthapith Virodhi Ekta Manch’s convener Madan Mohan.
The agitation, which started from 12.30pm, continued for two hours, holding traffic at the intersection near DC’s office to ransom. Vehicles, including school vans, had to take a detour as the main thoroughfare linking Bistupur-Sakchi to Mango remained blocked. Movement of heavy vehicles also came to a standstill for two hours, leading to traffic snarls in other roads as a ripple effect.
The tribals lifted the dharna only after meeting the ADC and handing over a memorandum addressed to chief minister Arjun Munda. “We will intensify our agitation and try to prevent any land transfer if the state government continues to give the gram sabhas a cold shoulder,” Mohan vowed.
ADC Ganesh Kumar said he would forward the memorandum to the government.
“A meeting between land and revenue minister Mathura Prasad and Kolhan commissioner Avinash Kumar is scheduled to be held in Ranchi tomorrow (Saturday). Representatives from Jindal Steel are also expected to be present. The memorandum will be sent so that the government can take action,” Kumar said.
Jindal Steel and Power Limited proposes to set up a steel plant of 5 million tonne per annum. “We are in the process of acquiring land for the project,” said a spokesperson of the company.
Of the required 416 acres, JSPL has so far acquired about 250 acres in Asanboni for the proposed integrated steel plant project worth Rs 11,500 crore. The company plans to commission the greenfield project in mid-2015.