A state government team, led by chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, will visit Birbhum’s Deocha on Thursday to meet representatives of residents and convince them to accept the rehabilitation package offered by the Mamata Banerjee administration.
The visit assumes significance as the government is keen on starting mining in the proposed Deocha-Pachami coal block before the 2021 Assembly polls to showcase the project as an engine of economic growth in South Bengal.
Sinha will go with land revenue commissioner Manoj Pant and managing director of West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) P.B. Salim.
“Some in the tribal community are unhappy with the rehabilitation package... They have to be taken into confidence as the government is against the idea of forceful land acquisition,” said a source.
Deocha-Pachami coal block, located in Birbhum’s Mohammedbazar, spreads over 11,222 acres with coal reserves of around 2.2 billion tonnes. The coal block is so vast that it can generate jobs for at least 1.5 lakh people, said sources.
“Birbhum has no industry. The project will send a message of development among people at a time the BJP is strengthening its base in districts, including Birbhum,” said a senior Trinamul leader. “If the government can start the project before the 2021 Assembly polls, we can showcase it as a success story for the government,” he added.
A group of tribal people met in Harinsingha village, from where the government is keen to start mining, on Wednesday evening to prepare for Thursday’s meeting.
“There are some 10 tribal villages with 3,000 people in Harinsingha,” said Rabin Soren, a tribal representative. “We will talk with the government on Thursday and propose our (rehabilitation) demands before they kick off the projects. Let us see how the talks go. Then we will think about our next step,” he said.
Officials said that the chief secretary and his team were coming to Birbhum to assure tribal people that the government would rehabilitate them before starting the work.