Bokaro, 21 February 2010
Expressing deep concern over to establish a 'mega' steel project in Jharkhand Steel king Arcelor Mittal chosen huge land at Kasmar block under Bokaro districts, told the general manager P S Prasad of the project.
Today in 'Ormo' village of Kasmar block, company officials held a meet for acquisition of land along with villager and government officials. More than 2000 villager were participated in the meet and kept their demands including employment and compensations before the company officials.
On the move to establish its steel unit at Kasmar Mittal officials marked the land of the village Jarutand, Lukkaya, Kojram, Bemrotand, Ormo, Hanslata, Vedotand, Purabtand, Charakpakhna, Kushlaguj including others, informed Amand Mahato a villager of Ormo.
Though land acquisition is the major problem in Jharkhan to establish a unit. Earlier the land earmarked for the mega projects belonged to the adivasis and the State had absolutely no control over it. Moreover the State had absolutely no clear cut policy on rehabilitation program.
The local tribal leaders added further fuel to the fire by instigating the ill literate villagers against selling their 'ancestral' land to the multi national companies. The State government remained a mute spectator with no initiation whatsoever to end the deadlock.
Earlier in the month of June last year villagers in Khuti and Gumla districts have turned an agitated lot over the plans to set up a steel plant by multinational steel giant Arcelor Mittal.
Arcelor Mittal has identified 11,000 acres of land overlapping the districts of Khuti and Gumla to set up a 12 million tonne steel plant.
"If the company acquires our land, we would die struggling for it. We will further lose our identity, society religion and our natural resources," alleged Labda Topno, Pradhan of Banai Toli village.
Expressing deep concern over the natural resources in the region being adversely affected, there would be a threat to the evergreen environment D Barla, Convenor of the Anti-Displacement Forum has alleged that the Government's Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mittal will displace hundreds of thousands of villagers from the region comprising over 40 villages, located in and around the proposed project.
"This fight is to save the environment and the villagers' life. There are water resources here on which Mittal's steel plant is going to come up and he would be acquiring all rights on it which are against the local people's interests and livelihood of thousands of families," said Barla.
The steel major had signed an MoU with the Jharkhand government in 2005 to set up a 12 million tonne greenfield steel plant with an investment of Rs.40,000 crore (Rs.400 billion/$8 billion). Mittal steel authorities say that the Jharkhand project's estimated cost is swelling due to delay.
Arcelor Mittal has already been allocated coal blocks and iron ore mines. Now it needs land to set up the plant. It plans to set up the plant on an 11,000-acre plot in the bordering areas of Khuti and Gumla districts. The villagers are protesting the land acquisition.
Due to land acquisition problem, Mittal and other major steel players are finding it difficult to set up plants.
Official sources informed that Jharkhand signed 71 MOUs (Actually the government had signed 74 MOUs till date, but three MOUs were cancelled as the signatories were not interested) with an investment of Rs 3,95,000 core with the private players to set up industrial projects in the state under the industrialization and development.
It is a sad fact that only 13 among those have seen the light of the day amounting to just fewer than 900 crores of Rupees all these years as against the estimated investment of tens of thousands of crores, while another 10 would tentatively launch during the next financial year.
Though, most of the mega projects on the anvil, met with similar fate.
Negligence of political leaders to undertake development work had given extremists an opportunity to establish their base in the state. Extremists have a presence in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. The contractors engaged in the execution of government and private sector projects in the rural areas had to face threats by the extremists if they refused to pay 'protection money'.
Presently, in absence of clear-cut industrial policy, single window system and a land bank, investors are in snag.
Priya Ranjan, Practicing Ph.D. in Internet Technologies
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