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Cave-in-prone land on Didi sop list

Raniganj, Jan. 8: Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) has claimed that the Asansol land the chief minister will distribute among 34 poor families under a state housing scheme belongs to the company and is “subsidence-prone”.

Mamata Banerjee will distribute pattas (land deeds) under the Nijo Griho Nijo Bhumi scheme during her visit to Asansol on January 10.

Altogether 115 families will receive land, but the problems have arisen over two parcels of 46 acres in Raniganj’s Bansra mouza.

“The plots in Bansra were identified by land department officials a couple of months ago. The land belongs to ECL and is subsidence-prone. The survey carried out on the plots was not proper,” said Madhusudan Ghosh, a retired ECL employee and a Trinamul worker.

After the villagers came to know that they would be given land in an area that has seen at least two instances of subsidence during monsoons last year, they demonstrated outside the office of the block land officer in Raniganj yesterday. They demanded that they be given other plots.

“We did not know that the government was planning to give us land in Bansra,” a daily-wage labourer in Bansra said.

ECL had last year declared the area unsafe for living after filling up the caved-in plots with sand and ash.

ECL officials said they were “surprised” that the Burdwan administration had identified land that was “unstable”.

“We have two coal pits and coal seams in the 641 plots that have been identified. Our coal depot, workshop, storeroom, explosive house and water-treatment plant are also there,” said Snehasish Mukherjee, the manager of the ECL-owned Bansra Colliery.

“The land is the property of ECL. Rampant illegal mining has led to subsidence,” Mukherjee added.

Burdwan district magistrate Onkar Singh Meena denied that the area was subsidence-prone and said the land was vested.