HYDERABAD: The issue pertaining to the land acquired for setting up a steel plant by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in Nagarnar in the predominantly tribal district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh is snowballing into a controversy.
According to Rebbapragada Ravi, Executive Director of Samata, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in the field of tribal rights and environment for the past 17 years, around 50,000 villagers belonging to Nagarnar, Kasturi, Maganpur and Amanguda gathered in a grand assembly of gram sabhas on March 2 and 3 to oppose the land acquisition.
Speaking to The Times of India over phone on his way back from Bastar, Ravi said that the situation in the district was tense as a large contingent of police was preventing supporters of the tribals from entering the village.
He accused the police of illegally detaining members of voluntary organisations, including eight belonging to Samata.
Ravi said that a group of NGOs trying to enter the area were attacked by the plantâs supporters, who belonged to mainstream political parties. He said the confrontation is between tribals, who would lose their land and consequently their livelihood land, and those belonging to the neighbouring towns interested in the development of the area
In their resolution contend that the consent of the gram sabhas, which is mandatory according to the Constitution, had not been taken in the appropriate form.The guidelines of the Centre with regard to relief and rehabilitation were also violated.The gram sabha demanded that the locals be given a share in the proposed industry as per the 5th schedule of the Constitution.
However, the NMDC Corporate Communications general manager Kumar Raghavan denied the accusation that the company had used any fraudulent means to acquire the land. He said that the company had followed all required procedures in acquiring the 500 acre for the proposed Rs 300 crore plant. He also said that the company has paid necessary compensation to the state government and all necessary guidelines have been followed.
The dispute is between the government and the locals and has nothing to do with NMDC, he said.