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Coal Mining conflict in Hazaribagh with NTPC in Jharkhand, India


Description:

On October 1, 2016, in the wee morning hours, police open fired 60 rounds of bullets at villagers on a peaceful sit-in protesting against unjust land acquisition in Hazaribagh district killing 5, and injuring at least 40 more. The farmers of Badkagaon have been struggling against the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) since 2004, which was when coal blocks were allotted. As per NTPC data, of the total 8,055 acres needed, it has been able to acquire about half, 4,043 acres, including forest and government-owned land, seven years after it started acquisition. Of 8,745 affected families, only 2,614 have accepted compensation. The rest are still protesting against the unjust compensation and illegal methods of land acquisition. The Karnapura Bachao Sangarsh Samiti has been active since 2004 for protecting the farmlands against NTPC. This association has carried out a number of protests, marches and demonstrations, including two Koyla Satyagraha, in which the local people extracted coal manually, and submitted the money earned to the national treasury, claiming, ‘If the government wants the coal beneath out land, we will give it to them, but we won’t part with our fertile land.’

In 2015, a consortium of two companies Thriveni Earthmovers and Sainik Mining won a tender to begin mining by the end of 2016. This is not the first stint of illegal mining for Thriveni, which had earlier been accused by the Shah Commission for illegal mining in Odisha.

 Amidst lot of protests, and with heavy security, mining was started on May 17, 2016. But soon afterwards, politicians from opposition parties supported the villagers to resume the struggle for their rights to land and livelihood.  Many meetings were scheduled between the ruling party, but the demands of the farmers were not met. Earlier this year, on August 14, there was another altercation when 200 villagers prevented NTPC contractors from building a resettlement colony. The villagers had thrown stones, to which the police had responded with tear gas and 22 rounds of bullers, injuring 6 people, including a journalist, who were then later arrested when they reached a civil hospital in Hazaribagh for treatment. And thus, on September 15, some thousand odd villagers started a sit-in protest near a mining site in Chiru Barwadih village, where the police brutality occurred on October 1, 2016.

These villagers who were protesting for their land and livelihoods have been beaten and harassed many times before. Currently, there is a First Information Report (FIR) against ‘500 unnamed persons’ for blocking mining operations and allegedly attacking the police. This effectively means that the police can arrest anyone from the village, as there are no names in the FIR, and this is an effective tool for intimidation and police treats. This forced hundreds of families to flee their homes after police and paramilitary forces carried out a door-to-door search of houses in six villages of Chapakala, Chipakhurd, Sonbarsa, Churchur, Arahar and Nagri. Due to the nameless FIR, they didn’t need a warrant for the search either.

Like more cases of environmental justice movements in India, this one too seems to follow a pattern of brutality and violence, human rights violation, asymmetric power structures and illegal methods and intimidation tactics to coerce the ecosystem people into giving up their fertile land for below than favourable conditions.    The government claims that (although the conflict started in 2004) the current agitation is mainly due to Yogendra Saw,  former MLA of Barkagaon in Hazaribagh district, and to Nirmala Devi,  the current MLA from Barkagaon. The couple has been accused of "instigating the mob to resort to violence".

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Coal Mining conflict in Hazaribagh with NTPC in Jharkhand, India
Country:India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Barkagaon block, Hazaribagh district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Coal
Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Already in 2013 it was stated that work of the much awaited NTPC's Pakri-Barwadih coal mining project in the Barkagaon block of the district, 30 km from Hazaribag was likely to start shortly.

The NTPC had acquired 82,000 acres of land affecting 8339 families. The Rs 3,200 crore Pakri Barwadih Coal Mining Project would produce 15 million tonnes of coal per annum for 27 years of mining operation, for feeding the Super Thermal Power Stations taken up for construction for boosting the power generation in the country. This particular project would provide employment to about 1200 persons.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Pakri-Barwadih-coal-block-in-Jharkhand, 24 Dec 2015

Project area:6,880
Level of Investment:5,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30,000 (more than 8000 families)
Start of the conflict:01/10/2004
Company names or state enterprises:National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India
Relevant government actors:Jharkhand State Government under Mr. Raghubar Das.
Nirmala Devi, Member of Legislative Assemby, and Yogendra Saw, former Agriculture Minister of Jharkhand in support of the villagers' protest
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ekta Parishad (ektaparishad.com)
Karnapura Bachao Sangarsh Samiti

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Women
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Strikes
Refusal of compensation

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Air pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Repression
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
On October 1, 2016, police open fire at villagers, killing 5, and injuring at least 40 more.
Development of alternatives:Most villagers of about 5 villages are not prepared to accept compensation for their fertile crop land. They wish to be given community and individual ownership of their lands under the Forests Right Act. They have seen other cases where neither proper compensation, nor rehabilitation was carried out, and they are not prepared to accept money against their rich agricultural plots with multiple cropping.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:This environmental justice movement is ongoing. Since 2004, the villagers have been protesting against the coal mining in their villagers, and had been able to prevent NTPC from mining for more than 12 years. It began mining in May, 2016, and since then there have been more agitations and protests, with the recent one resulting in death of 5 people, and injuries to many more. However, the people are not ready to back down, and we have to wait and watch to see if the people are either given the right to choose what they do with their land, under the Forests Right Act.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Information about earlier agitations
http://scroll.in/article/755969/jharkhands-coal-conflicts-show-the-lapse-of-land-ordinance-hasnt-doused-the-fire

Information about the people killed in the firing
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1161003/jsp/frontpage/story_111517.jsp#.V_OF3Yh97IU

Police Statements about the firing
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/stir-over-power-project-in-jharkhand-4-killed-as-protesters-clash-with-cops-3060614/

Newspaper article about the Protest
http://thewire.in/70306/hazaribagh-four-dead-police-firing-anti-mining-protest/

More details about the project and the actions leading to the police firing
http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/a-village-under-siege-puts-ntpc-project-in-limbo-116100301071_1.html

Article in The Economic Times 24 Dec. 2015
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Pakri-Barwadih-coal-block-in-Jharkhand

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Details of the Protest against NTPC at Badkagaon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xhiHzvNhVY

Meta information

Contributor:Brototi Roy
Last update18/08/2019

Images

 

Injured protestor

 

Injured people taken to hospital

 

Injured protestor

 

Dead due to the open firing

 

Protest Site after the Police Brutality

Blankets were torn and utensils destroyed at the protest site where villagers were peacefully conducting a sit-in since September 15, 2016.