Deocha-Pachami coal mine project on govt land for now, says Mamata Banerjee
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked top officials to start the first phase of Deocha-Pachami coal mine project on vacant government land and said her government would compensate adequately those whose land might be acquired later.
“Now we are not taking anyone’s private land. We will process the first phase on the land of the state government lying vacant. If we need to take anyone’s land, I can assure you all, including my tribal and minority brothers, there is nothing to worry. We will not evict anyone but provide you with a house, school and a job,” said Mamata at her administrative meeting.
The coal block in Birbhum’s Mohammedbazar is spread over 11,222 acres with estimated coal reserves of 2.2 billion tonnes.
The coal block is so vast that it can generate jobs for 1.5 lakh people, said sources.
An official said 550 acres are government land.
The state government has been bullish about the project since last year. The chief minister has said the project will not only benefit the local economy and give jobs but also secure coal supply for the state for at least 100 years.
In an effort to take the project forward, former chief secretary Rajiva Sinha in July last year held a meeting with tribal leaders in Deocha to seek their cooperation and promised proper compensation.
In her campaign during the recently concluded Assembly polls, Mamata had stressed how important the coal block project was to her scheme of things.
“We don’t need any private land in the first phase and if it is needed in the second phase, we will first talk to you (the owners). If the project is successful, there will be no scarcity of coal in the next 100 years. It will bring you a golden era. You people have nothing to worry as I am here as your guard,” said Mamata.
Officials said Mamata spoke on the need to get work started as she was aware that the first phase of the coal mine can be rolled out on 550 acres of government land available at the project site.
“Of the 550 acres, around 40 acres can be used immediately as there is no human habitation on the stretch....,” said a senior district official.
The Power Development Corporation Limited (PDCL) has started a primary survey in a few areas of the proposed coal mine project to understand the compensation demands of the local populace.
“The chief minister has given the directive to start the project today from Nabanna. We will follow the guideline of the secretariat to start the project,” said Bidhan Chandra Roy, the Birbhum district magistrate.
Before the poll, BJP leaders started visiting Deocha-Pachami allegedly to instigate the people against the project. The saffron camp had also held several meetings with the villagers but the efforts went in vain. In her several public meetings, Mamata had also warned people not to fall in the trap of the instigators.
“If someone instigates or provokes you, don’t fall for it. You need to believe that Didi is with you. I sacrificed a lot for Singur and Nandigram and I will be for you here too,” Mamata said.
Rabin Soren, the secretary of Birbhum Adivasi Gaonta, said, “We have no problem if the project starts on government land. Our only demand is that the government should engage in a dialogue with the owners before they take over private land.”
Apart from Deocha-Pachami coalmine project Mamata also asked her officials to speed up projects like green city and sports city in Howrah’s Dumurjala as soon as possible. In 2017, the government had announced its plan to upgrade 125 municipal towns into green cities. However, the project worth over Rs 450 crore has not been rolled out. In 2018, the government had planned to set up a sports city in Howrah’s Dumurjala with a fund of around Rs 1,000 crore.