A delegation from a tribal outfit in Birbhum on Friday reached the Raj Bhavan after completing a 200km march and submitted a deputation to the office of governor C.V. Ananda Bose seeking his intervention to scrap a proposed coal mine project that the state government is pursuing with vigour.
In the six-page memorandum, the 10-member delegation has accused the state government of initiating the acquisition of land in Mohammedbazar by violating the provisions of the Right toFair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Several other issues — like possible impact of the mine on their livelihood, environment and forest and compensation for the land-losers — have also been mentioned in the letter, which the Raj Bhavan has accepted.
“The meeting with the governor was not possibleas he was not available at the Raj Bhavan on Friday. However, we have submitted a detailed memorandum and hope to get a hearing from him.... There is a misinformation campaign that claims local people have given their consent for the mine. The reality is those who have given consent are not residents of the area,” Jagannath Tudu, a leader of the Adivasi Adhikar Mahasabha that held the march, told The Telegraph.
One of the major concerns of the tribal community, according to Tudu, is the state-owned West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited’s decision to go ahead with the coal mine even before getting environmental and forest clearances from the competent authorities.
“Despite the project area including over 200 acres of forest land, there has been no effort to settle the rights of the forest-dwelling ST households under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006,” the letter said.
The state government maintains that there would be no problem in getting environmental clearance. An official said that as there have been reports on the impact of pollution on the lives of local people due to indiscriminate stone mining, it would be better for the tribal families to shift to a different location.
“The memorandum raises important issues, not only regarding the illegalities involved in land acquisition for the coal mine project but also the need for a high-level inquiry into illegal basalt mining in the Pachami area and the demand for a state-level law to empower the gram sabhas in predominantly ST villages to prevent tribal land alienation. We hope the governor will consider the matter,” said Prasenjit Bose, an economist who accompanied the delegation.