Rallies, shutdown in Jharkhand this month against land acquisition

The opposition leaders held a meeting on Friday and chalked out strategy for the rally and the shutdown.

Ranchi, Oct 15 (IANS) Jharkhand is set to witness two rallies and one shutdown this month to protest land acquisition for various projects and changes proposed to the state`s two land acts through an ordinance.

The opposition parties have called a rally on October 19 and a shutdown on October 24 against the police firing at Barkagao in Hazaribagh district that killed four villagers.

The opposition leaders held a meeting on Friday and chalked out strategy for the rally and the shutdown. All top opposition leaders took part in the meeting.

"The `Sankalap Rally` will take place on October 19 and shutdown has been called on October 24 to protest the police firing," said Rakesh Sinha, a Congress leader, who attended the meeting.

Former central minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) President Babulal Marandi, leaders of JD-U, RJD and Left parties also attended the meeting.

On October 1, police had opened fire at protesters, in which four people, including three minors, were killed. The residents of Barkagao have been protesting the acquisition of land by the NTPC for coal block mining there. The villagers also allege that proper compensation has not been given to them.

The coal blocks of Pankri Barwadih, Chatti Bariatu and Keredari were identified in 2004 with the coal yield estimated at 13 million tonnes. The foundation stone was laid for the project on November 21, 2005. Overall, 8,100 acres of land needed to be acquired, of which 4,000 acres was to be from the `rayats` (contract tillers), 2,900 acres was forest land and 1,200 acres was government land.

It was likely to affect 8,745 families. The proposed compensation was fixed at Rs 8 lakh per acre.

On October 22, the Jharkhand Adivasi Sanghrash Morcha has called rally in Ranchi to protest the proposed changes through to the two land acts -- Chotangapur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Act (SPT). Once the ordinance is cleared by the President of India, the agriculture land could be acquired for non-agriculture purposes, like roads, power projects and malls.

The opposition parties and the BJP alliance partner AJSU are also opposing the proposed changes in the and acts.

"The tribal people will show their strength in the rally. No model is prepared for their development. Thousands of acres of land have been acquired in Jharkhand for different projects. The rally will highlight the feelings of the people to the Jharkhand government," Karma Oraon, the Jharkhand Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha Convener, told reporters.

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