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Adani project on less-sure ground

Reservations over project robust: Sources
Hemant Soren

Vijay Deo Jha   |   Ranchi   |   Published 02.01.20, 10:47 PM

The Hemant Soren government is facing calls from within to review the 1600-MW power project of the Adani group in Godda, around 340km from here.

Congress sources in Jharkhand as well as in New Delhi said the feedback from the ground was that the coalition government should not endorse any project that has been facing allegations linked to land acquisition.

The sources in New Delhi stressed that the final decision had not been taken but described reservations over the project as “robust”.

The Adani power project started during the innings of the erstwhile coalition government led by the BJP’s Raghubar Das. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 15,000 crore, out of which half the amount had already been said to have been invested.

Asked about the fate of the project, chief minister Hemant Soren had said in an interview to The Telegraph: “Let me look into this. I am not opposed to industry. But the interest of state will be the first priority.”

Minister and senior Congress leader Alamgir Alam said his party would insist that the government take a relook at the project.

“Land was acquired without holding a meeting of the gram sabha. According to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, farmers must be given four times the actual market price of land. But the BJP government deliberately ignored the provisions,” Alam said.

“The act also says that if the acquired land is not used for five years, it will be returned to its original holders. The rule says that 25 per cent of the total power generation will have to be given to Jharkhand. But in the case of this project, the entire power will be sold to Bangladesh. We can’t allow injustice to local farmers and exploitation of resources of Jharkhand for the benefit of an industrialist like Adani,” Alam added.

Sources at Adani Power said civil construction had started and the project was expected to be commissioned by 2021. “We can’t comment on the basis of speculation till something concrete comes up. We followed all rules and regulations. We have pledged to provide 400MW from our other units to Jharkhand, and the state will have first right of refusal,” said a company official.

Around 550 acres were acquired, covering parts of Godda and Poreyahat. The company paid Rs 50 lakh an acre, excluding rehabilitation and resettlement. Two plants of 800MW each are proposed to be set up.

But a Congress leader said: “You must have noticed how Rahul Gandhi had attacked PM Narendra Modi during the parliamentary and Assembly election campaign for favouring his industrialist friends like Adani. In Jharkhand, Rahul Gandhi had addressed three rallies during the Assembly elections and he had directly named Adani.”

The state-level Congress leader pointed out that Rahul had said the party was committed to safeguarding the interest of tribal people and farmers when it came to forceful acquisition of land. “In this context, he had said that how the Congress government in Chhattisgarh had taken back land from a renowned corporate group. Trusting our commitment, people voted us to power and it is clear that we will ensure justice to affected people,” he added.

The then principal Opposition parties – such as the JVM, Congress and the JMM — had vehemently opposed the project, alleging the government forcefully acquired land for the Adani project without the approval of the gram sabha. The project had seen a violent clash between police and residents. Pradeep Yadav, the JVM MLA from Poreyahat, was at the forefront of the protest.

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