|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
6,000 people to lose land to Sasan project
Sapna Dogra Singh in Sasan | August 27, 2007 09:21 IST
The postcard-perfect landscape of Sasan - a cluster of five villages spread over a lush green area of about 3,000 acres - will soon be dramatically transformed to house the country's largest thermal power project that will supply power at the lowest cost.
However, about 6,000 people will lose their land and homes once the Rs 20,000-crore (Rs 200 billion) project takes off.
Though everyone in the area, from children to elders, is well aware that the project has been bagged by Reliance [Get Quote] Power Ltd, an Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group company, it is hard to miss the concern in their eyes about their future.
The five villages - Sidhikhurg, Sidhikala, Tiyara, Jhanjhi and Harrhawa - that make up Sasan have a population of about 10,000. As elsewhere in India, displacement and compensation for land-losers are issues that exercise the local people.
Both issues are critical because the green cover here belies the stark poverty of an area that has just one or two pakka (permanent) houses. Most farmers and daily labourers live in mud hutments.
"We will lose our homes and land once the work on the plant starts, so we need to be compensated," says 63-year-old Dalsingar Ram of Sidhikhurg village, whose house and land are inside the proposed project area.
Similar views are expressed by inhabitants of other villages. They want jobs in the plant along with monetary compensation. "The government should give Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) per acre along with employment to the displaced," says 30-year-old Gopal Vaish, who is a law graduate but is jobless.
So far, the villagers had not received any formal communication from the local administration regarding resettlement and rehabilitation, said a local Madhya Pradesh government official.
Nevertheless, said an official of the Power Finance Corporation [Get Quote], which, until recently, was handling project, "The process of land acquisition is proceeding smoothly."
Acquiring agricultural land like that of Sasan is a multi-stage process that begins with an in-principle approval from the state government. A local administration official said the approval had been obtained. Recently, the government also issued a notification, prohibiting people from procuring or selling land in the area or building new establishment.
The ultra mega power project has also been given forest clearance by the Madhya Pradesh government and awaits approval from Ministry of Environment and Forests. The project will get coal from the coal mines located 20-25 kilometres away - in Mohar, Amlori and Chatrasal.
Though there's no boundary wall yet demarcating the project area, the local population seems to know exactly where the borders of the plant will be.
This correspondent was told that there was a board, which said "4,000 Mw Sasan ultra mega power project", but it disappeared and people have different versions of what happened to it. Some say it is being used as a stool by the local school teacher while others say it was blown away by a strong wind.
The 4,000-Mw project based on pithead coal was recently bagged by RPL after the government disqualified Hyderabad-based Lanco Infratech [Get Quote], original claimants to the project.