Land acquisition protests gain momentum in Jharkhand

Ranchi: Protests against land acquisition for industries are gaining momentum in Jharkhand and a police firing in Ramgarh has fuelled it further.

Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi on Tuesday started a two-day mass fast at Hazaribagh district against land acquisition by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

On Monday, police had opened fire on villagers demanding compensation for land acquired by Innland Power Limited (IPL). Two people were killed and more than 20 belonging to either sides were injured. 

The displaced people were earlier called for talks at IPL factory which the management did not attend.

This angered the villagers who started protesting that resulted in police firing later on. 

According to opposition parties the land rate compensation given to villagers this time are much less than the 2013 land acquisition provisions.

Jharkhand is facing these protest at various places. In Hazaribagh the villagers are protesting against the NTPC, while in Barkagao for coal mines. 

NTPC was awarded coal blocks for thermal power plant at Barkagao in 2010 but mining could not start due to protest.

The opposition had put the state government on mat during the budget session in February for low compensation of land in Santhal Pargana region. They had alleged that the price was reduced to ensure land to Adani power plant at low rate.

Following which a committee was formed to look into the land rates of Santhal Pargana. 

The fresh row over land acquisition began when Jharkhand tried to make changes in two land acts -- Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CTA)and Santhal Pargana Act (SPT). 

Even alliance partner of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party joined the opposition as the changes could lead to land acquisition for non agricultural purposes like power plants, roads, malls and other things. 

Former central Minister and Congress leader Subodhkanat Sahay told IANS: "Jharkhand is suffering from land acquisition problem." 

Echoing his view former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Executive President Hemant Soren told IANS: " The killing of people indicates the ruthless and insensitive approach of the Raghubar Das government." 

The opposition has also alleged that the state has proposed to form land banks which would lead to vacating of people living on government land.

The protest against NTPC had gained momentum in July when opposition leaders went to Barkagao to extend support. NTPC lodged FIR against them for entering the mining area. On August 4, the opposition even courted arrest.

Chief Minister Raghubar Das had assured the villagers earlier this month that agriculture land would not be acquired forcefully.