New Delhi: Steel giant ArcelorMittal’s Jharkhand project may hit a roadblock with local villagers deciding not to give away an “inch of land” to the company for setting up the Rs40,000 crore greenfield steel project.
The move comes within days of the world’s largest steel producer, led by billionaire Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, applying for over 11,000 acres for its proposed steel plant and rehabilitation colony in the state.
Owing allegiance to Adivasi Moolwasi Astitva Raksha Manch (AMARM), the villagers adjoining Torpa-Kamdara blocks, where the company proposes to set up its 12-million-tonne steel plant, have rejected the Jharkhand Government’s rehabilitation and resettlement policy and vowed not to part with their land.
“The recently-announced policy of the government is an attempt to grab land from villagers on the pretext of industrialization. We won’t let it happen. Villagers will not give even an inch of land to ArcelorMittal,” AMARM coordinator Dayamani Barla told PTI over phone from Ranchi.
The company, however, said it was making good progress on the project.
“Things are moving in the right direction. We have applied for land and are extensively carrying out corporate social responsibility works in the state,” ArcelorMittal’s CEO for Jharkhand and Orissa projects Sanak Mishra said.
He, however, declined to comment on the likely protest by villagers over land issue.
Of the total land requisitioned by the steel major, nearly 75% belongs to private owners spanned across 14 villages, while the rest is owned by the government.
Barla said villagers would launch Satyagraha against any attempt of “intrusion” by government or ArcelorMittal into their ancestral property.
Under the banner of AMARM, the villagers have already submitted a four-point charter of demands to Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi and Chief Minister Madhu Koda besides deputy commissioners of respective districts, which fall under the project site of ArcelorMittal.
Among others, the villagers are demanding that no industrial project, which would lead to displacement of people, should be allowed to come up in the state.
To spearhead the public movement against ArcelorMittal, the villagers have coined a slogan “Hamein Jharkhand chahiye, karkhana nahin, hamien anaj chahiye steel nahi” (we want Jharkhand, not industries; we want food, not steel).
Reacting to villagers protest against industrialisation, a senior official of a leading steel company said, “It is true that the tribals have had bitter experience of displacement in the past. But that was for government projects. The private companies must be given a chance to prove themselves.”