Jharkhand villagers protest transfer of land to ArcelorMittal

May 30th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

ArcelorMittal Ranchi, May 30 (IANS) Villagers in Jharkhand’s Khuti and Gumla district are protesting the transfer of government land to steel giant ArcelorMittal for a proposed greenfield project.
Villagers, mostly farmers, are protesting under the banner of Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch (AMARM).

ArcelorMittal has identified 11,000 acres of land in Khuti and Gumla districts to set up a 12 million tonne steel plant.

“The government has transfered land that belongs to ‘gram sabha’ (local body) and it has no right to do so. The move to transfer the land is in violation of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT). Under CNT act tribal land can not be transferred to a non-tribal,” AMARM convenor Dayamani Barla told reporters here Saturday.

Despite resistance from the villagers to part with their lands, the state government has transferred 1,025 acres of land to the company in Gumla district near the project site, she added.

The AMARM has also threatened to move court to oppose the transfer of land.

According to official sources, the government had asked ArcelorMittal to deposit Rs.15.55 crore (Rs.155 million) for land acquisition and the company has already given Rs.12.29 crore (Rs.122 million).

The company has been allocated coal blocks and iron ore mines in the state. In Jharkhand, nearly half a dozen proposed Greenfield steel projects are facing tough resistance on land acquisition.

A government officials said that AMARM is setting up the agitation as the movement against land acquisition may weaken if the company get the government land.

“The steel company will get a foothold after getting the government land. The company then can also allure villagers to part with their lands by announcing good compensation package,” said an official of the industries department.

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