The Chhattisgarh Congress has asked the state’s Governor to intervene and put a stop to the transfer of land in tribal fifth schedule areas that is being given to Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), in lieu of land being used to set up an IIT.
A letter written by Congress leader of opposition T S Singhdeo says that while he has always been a staunch supporter of the IIT in the state, land being given by the revenue department to the BSP in exchange is land that belongs to tribals, and cannot be taken without their consent.
“For the setting up of the IIT, 130 hectares of land was taken from the Bhilai Steel Plant. In lieu of which the revenue department is giving 130 hectares of land in districts like Narayanpur, Kanker, Balod and Durg,” it says. “What is worrisome is that the land that is being given to the BSP comes under areas where the fifth schedule is in operation. In these areas, the PESA Act is in operation, which dictates that without permission of the gram sabha, ownership of land cannot be changed. It has been brought to my notice that in the villages of Kalgaanv, Pharaskot and Lambhkanhar in Kanker district, several gram sabhas have been held where they have opposed the exchange of the land. Despite this, the government is moving ahead with the process which does not have constitutional basis,” Singhdeo said.
He has also written that the land being transferred is listed as “Chhote Bade Jhad ke Jungle”, which falls under the definition of forest land, and forest laws were being broken as no permissions had been sought. Rehabilitation and compensation norms were also being violated, he said.
Singhdeo said, “It seems that recently the government attempted to make changes to the Land Revenue Code through an amendment which would have allowed acquisition of land by private companies which was made unsuccessful through mass protests. After this, the government is now trying to find away around this through this process of exchange of land, when this is against norms.”