MP moots NTPC truce plan- Sinha holds meet to re­solve row over land com­pen­sa­tion

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Atwo-hour-long meet­ing chaired by Union min­is­ter Jayant Sinha to bro­ker peace with lo­cal res­i­dents op­pos­ing NTPC coal min­ing projects, failed to re­solve the dead­lock over com­pen­sa­tion even af­ter the Hazarib­agh MP put forth a set of op­tions that in­cluded lead­ing a del­e­ga­tion of vil­lagers to meet chief min­is­ter Raghubar Das for an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion.

Sinha rea­soned with the lo­cal res­i­dents, rep­re­sented by Bark­a­gaon MLA Nir­mala Devi, zilla parishad chair­per­son Sushila Devi, zilla parishad mem­ber from Katkam­sandi Priyanka Ku­mari, be­sides mukhiyas of var­i­ous pan­chay­ats of Bark­a­gaon, to make it clear that it wasn't within any­one's power to stop NTPC from con­tin­u­ing with their work.

How­ever, he sug­gested three op­tions. The first, he said, was for NTPC to stop de­vel­op­ing the projects any fur­ther.

The sec­ond op­tion was for pri­vate land own­ers to re­turn the com­pen­sa­tion they had ac­cepted from NTPC and take back their land, while the third op­tion was to strike a deal with Na­tional Ther­mal Power Cor­po­ra­tion over com­pen­sa­tion or other fa­cil­i­ties in the area.

Sinha even told the gath­er­ing that he was ready to take five rep­re­sen­ta­tives from each of the 11 af­fected vil­lages to chief min­is­ter Das for a di­a­logue and later visit Bark­a­gaon to hear the griev­ances of the land own­ers.

"We want trans­parency in the work and par­tic­i­pa­tion of the peo­ple. If there has been any in­jus­tice by po­lice, I will not sup­port such acts. The guilty must be pun­ished. We all want to ar­rive at a res­o­lu­tion in a peace­ful way with­out any vi­o­lence," said Sinha, who came in from Delhi for the meet­ing and was sched­uled to re­turn in the evening.

NTPC is de­vel­op­ing three cap­tive coal min­ing projects, Pankri Bar­wadih, Chatti Bariatu and Keredari, spread over Bark­a­gaon and Keredari blocks of Hazarib­agh district. Of the three, Pankri Bar­wadih is the largest with 8,000 acres ac­quired for it.

On May 17, NTPC launched min­ing op­er­a­tions at Chirudih Bar­wadih, a part of the Pankhri Bar­wadih project. This was op­posed to by a gath­er­ing of over 500 peo­ple who de­manded that the ther­mal power ma­jor stop work till such time their de­mand for higher com­pen­sa­tion for their land was re­solved.

Po­lice re­sorted to lathi charge to con­trol the bel­liger­ent mob af­ter which the pro­test­ers al­leged that over three dozen men and women were in­jured.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers, in­clud­ing Bab­u­lal Marandi of the JVM along with those of the JMM, RJD and even Congress are sup­port­ing the lo­cal ag­i­ta­tion against NTPC cit­ing un­fair com­pen­sa­tion to land own­ers and po­lice atroc­i­ties against pro­test­ers.

Among the 40-odd lead­ers who were present at the meet­ing were state RJD chief Gau­tam Sagar Rana, JVM leader Shivlalmahto, lo­cal leader Mithilesh Dangi and for­mer Bark­a­gaon MLA Lok­nath Mahto,

NTPC was rep­re­sented by deputy gen­eral man­ager (HR) S. K. Ti­wary.

At the meet­ing, which ended at 5.30pm, lo­cal res­i­dents and lead­ers pri­mar­ily com­plained about po­lice high-hand­ed­ness and al­leged that NTPC had vi­o­lated the law by ac­quir­ing fer­tile land for its min­ing project.

RJD'S Rana ac­cused NTPC of us­ing force to ac­quire land for its Pankri Bar­wadih project. "Riy­ats weren't ready to give up their fer­tile land that can pro­duce three crops a year. There­fore, as per the land ac­qui­si­tion act of 2013, no one can take the land," he said, adding that they wanted an im­me­di­ate stop to the min­ing work at Chirudih till such time the mag­is­te­rial re­port on the May 17 po­lice lathi charge on pro­test­ers came in.

NTPC'S Ti­wary, re­fused to com­ment apart from stress­ing that the com­pany had all along acted as per the law of the land.

MLA Nir­mala Devi said she would al­ways re­mem­ber the po­lice lath­icharge of May 17. "Preg­nant women were also beaten up. The po­lice have no right to beat up peo­ple in such a way in a democ­racy. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, we will not al­low NTPC to con­tinue work," she said.

Zilla parishad chair­per­son Sushila Devi also ac­cused the po­lice of ex­treme re­ac­tion. "Po­lice beat up pro­test­ers, in­clud­ing women. I was a wit­ness to the in­ci­dent. Such bru­tal ac­tion can­not be tol­er­ated," she said.


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