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CM to open coal mine

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By ABHIJEET CHATTERJEE
  • Published 13.04.12
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Durgapur, April 12: Mamata Banerjee will tomorrow flag off production at a coal mine in Bankura where around 2,000 land-loser families have been protesting the delay in being given jobs at the project for the past seven years.

The Left Front government had started acquiring 694 acres in Borjora for open-cast mining in 2005. But the villagers, led by some Trinamul workers, have been agitating over a charter of demands that includes jobs at the colliery and price hike for their land since then. Tomorrow, they plan to hand over a memorandum to Mamata with their demands.

The government is expected to earn a revenue of Rs 56 crore annually from the mine from where coal will be sold to factories in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore. Under the private-public partnership model, the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation Limited will sell the coal while the Trans-Damodar Coal Mine Private Limited will mine it.

The agitation had forced the Left government to stop the acquisition process for one-and-a-half years from 2009 in the backdrop of the Singur and Nandigram movements.

But the government agreed to hike the land prices in March last year and handed over the plot to Trans-Damodar Coal Mine Private Limited.

“Our anti-acquisition movement in Borjora turned out to be successful as the Left Front government later agreed to increase the price of our land to Rs 9 lakh to 11 lakh from the previous offer of Rs 4 lakh to 6.8 lakh. But many youths have not yet been given jobs at the colliery which the private company had promised,” said Tinku Mandal, the general secretary of Trinamul’s women cell in Bankura.

Mandal had been leading the villagers since 2005.

Last week, more than 1,000 Trinamul supporters led by Mandal and Borjora panchayat chief Aloke Mukherjee had staged a dharna in front of the mine office and prevented workers from levelling the land for the dais from where the chief minister will inaugurate the production tomorrow.

The private coalmine company, however, has claimed that they have already given jobs to nearly 170 land-loser families and has also prepared a list of another round of beneficiaries.

Arup Chakraborty, the working president of Trinamul in Bankura, said the party workers would request the chief minister tomorrow to ensure that at least one member from each of the land-loser families get job at the coal project.