Bhangar residents Thursday stopped ongoing work to construct a power grid in Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas, accusing the government of having a “laidback attitude” over commitments made to them.
The project was halted in early 2017 after a series of protests and violent incidents. It resumed in August after local residents and government reached an agreement. The committee spearheading the movement against the power sub-station said the villagers are feeling “betrayed”.
“There was a written agreement between the government and the villagers. The government committed they would complete development works in the area side by side with the project. Now, project-related work is on in full swing while government is showing a laidback attitude towards the work they committed to completing for development of the area. This has triggered anger amongst the villagers…” said Mirza Hasan, joint secretary of the Jomi Jibika, Bastutantra O Paribesh Raksha.
The matter was temporarily resolved after the local administration scheduled a meeting of the parties concerned for Friday. “We don’t want protest for the sake of it. What villagers are demanding are very simple things from lighting to the setting up of a cold storage. For these things, one doesn’t need to go for an agitation. We hope this token protest…will make the government notice the loopholes,” CPI(ML) Red Star leader Sharmishta Choudhury told The Indian Express.
Police personnel have been deployed in the area. “We believe in action and not in words. So far only promises have been made and no plans have been fully executed as per the commitment,” said a villager.
Among the commitments made by the state government are the cleaning of the Bidyadhari, electrification of some houses in Polarhat-II, the upgradation of a primary health centre into a block-level health centre and that of a primary school into a high school, said sources.
Government officials did not comment on the issue, but a TMC leader said, “There is no tension in the area at all. Some people unnecessarily try to instigate innocent villagers for their own benefit.”
While chairing a review meeting in the district, Mamata had asked officials why there was a delay in setting up the power grid. “If needed, employ more people to complete the project. Finish the work within January.”
The officials assured her that the work would be completed within that time.