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Singur to Singrauli

A Singur-like agitation in the coal-rich Singrauli district on eastern border of Madhya Pradesh with Uttar Pradesh has stalled the Essar Group’s 1250 mw thermal power project, reports Debobrat Ghose.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2009 23:58 IST
Debobrat Ghose

A Singur-like agitation in the coal-rich Singrauli district on eastern border of Madhya Pradesh with Uttar Pradesh has stalled the Essar Group’s 1250 mw (first phase) thermal power project.

Farmers of four villages are adamant on land for land as compensation for displacement from the proposed site of the power project that requires 1250 acres land. They have been carrying out agitation since December 14. MP’s Tribal Welfare Minister and local tribal leader Jagannath Singh on December 31 tried to persuade the agitating farmers to agree to the company’s compensation package but his four-hour long talks with 100-odd representatives of the farmers at district headquarters (Waidhan) failed.

The representatives from Badhoura, Khairahi, Nagwa and Karsualal — the four villages where Essar’s project is proposed to come up — demanded a fresh round of negotiation involving the Chief Minister, Singrauli collector, land acquisition officer, Essar’s Shashi Ruia and villagers at the agitation site.

Essar Power MP Limited CEO, Rajendra Prasad Gupta says the company has offered best possible compensation package as per the land survey conducted by the State Government. “The company needs 1,250 acre private land but could acquire only 60 acres so far. There’re disputes but there’s no leader to talk to on the issue ,” he told HT.

Visthapan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, the joint forum of the bodies spearheading the agitation, contends it is not opposing the project. “But development can’t be at the cost of farmers livelihood,” remarked M.M. Jaiswal of the Samiti.

Another leader, Upendra Pandey says farmers are upset over the compensation package and this was more than evident in the boycott of the assembly polls on November 27. “Nearly 6,000 voters out of a total population of 8,500-odd in the affected villages did not vote”, Pandey claimed. He is general secretary of Udvaasit Kisan Mazdoor Parishad, one of the bodies of the displaced farmers. The agitation so far, however, is peaceful.

No one has been arrested, though the police have booked 210 villagers for blockading Essar Company's staffers at the site. “The cases were registered against 10 by name and 200 others but none has been arrested,” Singrauli SP RS Ukey said.

Earlier, 38 farmers had been arrested in initial phase of protest in July and August. Of the displaced, over 35 percent are tribals and scheduled caste.