Protest stalls Panagarh Industrial Park project work

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Work for the 10 Km metalled road connecting the proposed Panagarh Industrial Park adjacent to Durgapur and NH2 have been stalled by the villagers’ yesterday (13 January) demanding compensation and rehabilitation. The project has faced resistance from tribals in these two mouzas on the plea that the state hasn’t offered enough compensation to the land labourers and sharecroppers.

Ironically the incident occurred on a day when the new state industry minister Amit Mitra during a press meet at Nabanna announced state’s firmness over construction of the proposed Panagarh Industrial Park. The erstwhile Left Front government had acquired 600 acres for the Panagarh Industrial Park in two phases in 2009 and 2010 in Amanidanga and Madhabmath mouzas.

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Yesterday, when officials and engineers of BLA Projects Pvt Ltd, which is building the road, went to the site in Durgapur’s Kanksa with heavy earth moving machines to level land for the approach road to the park, about 100 villagers armed with bows and arrows gheraoed them.

The officials and the project workers were confronted by unruly villagers who forced them to roll back the machines. The officials pressed the panic button and a police team from the local Kanksa police station rushed to their rescue.

According to Shiblal Hansda – an agitating labourer: “We were promised rehabilitation, which was yet to be arranged. But they have resumed civil work further violating the previous mutual settlement.” He added: “We won’t allow the project work to continue till our demands are met.”

The agitators, who claimed to have tilled the land as sharecroppers before it was acquired by the Left government in 2009, said they did not get compensation despite being promised 25 per cent of the land price and rehabilitation.

“We have been living on the land for decades and also cultivating it as sharecroppers. The former Left Front government promised us 25 per cent of the land price and rehabilitation. But nothing has been done by the present government,” said one of the agitators.

A district official said land owners who had proper documents had been paid about Rs 10.8 lakhs per acre.

The ghost of land acquisition seems to be the biggest hurdle for the Trinamool Congress government now. The issue of land acquisition, which brought Trinamool Congress to power, is now its biggest obstacle in taking Bengal into the path of development.

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