Purulia, Aug. 26: Purulia district magistrate Tanmoy Chakraborty has asked the Damodar Valley Corporation to put on hold the laying of water pipes required for a thermal power plant unit, saying he wants to talk to a section of land-losers who are protesting seeking jobs.
“I have requested the DVC authorities in charge of the project to put on hold work on a section of the water corridor that some of the land-losers are protesting over. I would like to sit down with them and seek a solution so that the DVC can go ahead with the work in full swing,” Chakraborty said this afternoon.
The first 600MW unit in the first phase of the DVC’s 2520MW Raghunathpur Thermal Power Project is set for commissioning in November.
Water supply essential for thermal power generation will be sourced from the Panchet dam, 10.5km from the project, situated at Dumdumi in Raghunathpur sub-division of Purulia.
“The laying of the water corridor, which is 20m wide all along the 10.5km length, involves taking up of a total of 51 acre. This will enable setting up of pipelines which have to carry 3,000 cubic metres of water per hour for each of the four units that will ultimately come up at Dumdumi,” said Debashis Dutta, the superintending engineer of the project.
District officials said the acquisition process had started in 2007-2008 and the compensation offered was between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh per acre.
“There are about 1,600 land-losers, of whom about 700 people have taken their compensation cheques,” an official said.
Raghunathpur sub-divisional officer Pranab Biswas said the land had been acquired after notification and handed over to the DVC by the end of 2010.
“Landowners of 80 per cent of the plots that have been acquired have collected their cheques. The remaining 20 per cent of the land was, however, owned by 50 per cent of the landowners. Since their holdings were small and the compensation amount was not that significant, they have demanded jobs with the DVC as well. This is where the stalemate lies,” the SDO explained.
Dutta said a little over 1km of the pipeline had been laid in the last one year. Work was stalled because of the panchayat elections.
“But when we resumed work early this month, some of the landowners protested, demanding permanent jobs along with compensation.”
The superintending engineer said a tripartite meeting on August 6 was inconclusive, which was followed by the transfer of the district magistrate.
Before leaving, he had apparently left instructions that the administration would assist the DVC in constructing the corridor by providing police protection, if necessary.
Accordingly, the DVC and the administration geared up to resume work today when the new DM requested them to put the work on hold.
The vice-chairman of the Raibandh Bhumihara Anchal Jomi Suraksha Committee, Nikhil Mondal, SUCI supporter, welcomed the move for fresh talks.
“We are not against the setting up of the pipeline or the power project. But if the residents of the area do not benefit from it, then what is the use? Once they are met, we will allow the work to go on. We mainly want permanent job in the project for one member of each land-loser family,” Mondal said.