Arcelor Mittal steel project faces land acquisition row in Jharkhand

October 18th, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Oct 18 (IANS) After the land acquisition row faced by Tata Motors for its Nano project in West Bengal, it is time for the global steel major Arcelor Mittal in Jharkhand to face the heat for the same reason, as it plans its greenfield steel project. Arcelor Mittal had selected an area in Khuti district of Jharkhand for their plant. The project needs around 11,000 acres of land, of which 8,800 acres is required to set up a 12-million-tonne steel plant and 2,400 acres for establishing a township. The steel major was also allocated iron ore mines and coal blocks.

An organisation opposing the land acquisition, called Adivasi Malvasi Astitva Raksha Manch (AMARM), launched a campaign against Arcelor Mittal’s steel project early this week. Representatives of Arcelor Mittal held parleys with some villagers Oct 15, but the agitation only gained momentum after that.

Around 15,000 pamphlets were distributed among the villagers at the start.

“Farmers need food grains not steel. We are strengthening the voice of villagers,” said Dayamani Barla, a member of AMARM.

She said: “Pamphlets are being distributed to make people aware of the move of the state government. The state government should immediately stop land acquisition.”

The pamphlets say land acquisition is wrong as tribal land cannot be transferred to non-tribals. Also, agricultural land cannot be acquired for industrialisation, it claims. It also cites examples of land acquisition in which tribes were deprived of their rights.

The Mittal steel project site is in Torpa block of Khuti district. This is the same block where the 700-MW Koel Karo hydel project was mooted some 35 years ago. The project could not see the light of day due to opposition by the villagers, who were supported by some NGOs.

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