Jin­dals grab Ch­hat­tis­garh tribal land worth crores

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Ha­keem Ir­fan @ dna

Raigarh ( Chat­tis­garh): In or­di­nary cir­cum­stances, Santram Paikara would have grabbed global head­lines. Af­ter all, you don’t get to hear sto­ries about a poor tribal car­ry­ing out land deals worth crores of ru­pees ev­ery day.

Why then the world’s not talk­ing about Santram? Well, it’s be­cause of the Jin­dals.

When the Ch­hat­tis­garh tribal was buy­ing land worth crores of ru­pees in Raigarh, 280 km from the state cap­i­tal of Raipur, he was work­ing with Jin­dal Power – earn­ing a daily wage of Rs 160. That was in 2008.

For five years, the world didn’t have a clue about how Santram was land­ing up all those big- ticket deals. In March 2014, the Raigarh district ad­min­is­tra­tion stum­bled upon the an­swer.

A de­tailed list of tribal land trans­ac­tions re­vealed that even though the deals took place be­tween two trib­als, the land was ac­tu­ally in pos­ses­sion of third par­ties – mostly mid­dle­men or in­dus­tries in Raigarh.

Jin­dal Power and its sub­sidiaries pos­sess at least 108 acres of land in the Tam­nar area of Raigarh and ad­ja­cent ar­eas. Sec­tion 170 ( b) of the Ch­hat­tis­garh Land Rev­enue Code, 1959, bars the sale of tribal agri­cul­tural land to non- trib­als in or­der to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of the poor and il­lit­er­ate trib­als.

District mag­is­trate Mukesh Bansal told dna he faced stiff re­sis­tance even from within his own depart­ment while draw­ing the list of tribal land trans­ac­tions.

“The law has been cir­cum­vented ... and heads will def­i­nitely roll. The case is go­ing on in the court and I am con­ven­ing a meet­ing with all the rev­enue of­fi­cers next week as­sess the sta­tus,” he said.

On crim­i­nal cul­pa­bil­ity in the mat­ter, Bansal said, “We will see that when the court will hear the mat­ter... there are some govern­ment of­fi­cials in­volved... At least, this list will now stop such land deals in fu­ture.”

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