MAC: Mines and Communities

Chhattisgarh Dangles Rehab Package For Sake Of Tata Plant

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01
Source: Indo-Asian News Service ()

CHHATTISGARH

Chhattisgarh dangles rehab package for sake of Tata plant

Sujeet Kumar, Indo-Asian News Service

Raipur, May 26 (IANS) In a bid to quell public protests in the Bastar region against a Tata Steel plant, the Chhattisgarh government has said it will dole out an enticing rehabilitation package for those displaced by it.

The government is trying to convince protestors who say the plant will occupy a rare stretch of fertile land despite Bastar having thousands of acres of barren and unused land.

India's largest steel maker in the private sector, Tata Steel signed a deal with the government in June last year for setting up a five-million-tonne per annum integrated steel plant with a Rs.100 billion investment.

The company has sought 4,500 acres of land in the Lohandiguda area, 32 km from the Bastar district headquarters, but is yet to acquire the plot due to tribal opposition in 10 villages.

Ironically, the local legislator, Lachhuram Kashyap, of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is spearheading the anti-Tata campaign.

Chief Minister Raman Singh held a meeting here with the elected local representatives of the 10 tribal-dominated villages of Lohandiguda and assured them that his 'government is committed to providing a dream land compensation and rehabilitation package'.

'After a marathon effort by the state government, Tata agreed to set up a plant in impoverished but mineral rich Bastar. The BJP government will not mete out any injustice to the local population,' Singh told the leaders of 10 villages.

Singh said the Tata plant would speed up industrialisation in Bastar that had been left out of the development process for decades.

Tata Steel has also launched a door-to-door campaign to persuade villagers.

'Because of intense protests by locals, the Chhattisgarh government is finding it difficult to allot land to Tata Steel. The land will be allotted to the company only when tribals totally agree for land handover,' a senior industry department official told IANS.

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