Farmers' protest Tata Steel's Chhattisgarh project

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Block of Bastar (Chhattisgarh), Jan.28: Tata Steel's move to start a new steel project in LohandigudaBastar has received serious condemnation by the farmers. India's largest steel maker, Tata Steel has offered a compensation package that includes giving jobs, Rs.100, 000 per hectare of barren land, Rs.150, 000 per acre of single crop-land and Rs.200, 000 per acre of multi-crop land.

The steel major has also promised one acre and a maximum 2.47-acre land under land for land compensation scheme' for those who are losing 75 to 100 percent of their land. Tata Steel had inked the deal with the Chhattisgarh Govt in June 2005 to set up a five million ton per annum green field integrated steel plant in two-phases with the help of Rs.100 billion investment.

The Chhattisgarh steel project needs 2063.06 hectares or 5098 acres land in the Lohandiguda block, which falls under the Chitrakote assembly segment in Bastar district, and is located 325 km from state capital Raipur.

Mahngu Ram of Dhura village told a news agency: “I would not hand over my land to Tata at any cost because land is my only source of income." Mahgu Ram has 33-acres of land to give TATA for this project. Jai Singh is another village whose family has lost 70-acres of land to Tata for this project. He also told he was protesting against this project. Toka Ram, another villager, said he too would not hand over land to Tata Steel.

Out of total 2063.06 hectares meant for the project, 86.5 percent or 1,784.22 hectares is private land, while 173.03 hectares (8.4 percent) is government land. The balance 105.81 hectares (5.1 percent) is revenue and forestland.

The Tata project will cover 10 villages- Badanji, Bade Paroda, Belar, Beliyapal, Chindgaon, Dabpal, Dhura gaon, Kumhali, Sirisaguda and Takraguda- mostly dominated by Gond, Muria and Halba tribes, besides poor families belonging to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

The Lohandiguda block is considered one of the most fertile areas in entire Bastar region.

ANI

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