New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh will announce an improved rehabilitation and resettlement, or R&R, package for people displaced by the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s (R-Adag) proposed power project, which has been delayed after local protests stymied efforts to acquire land.
The new R&R package, which includes assessment of land value at current prices, guaranteed employment and a monthly pension to senior citizens, is likely to become the template for similar projects elsewhere in the country.
Better deal: Krishna Dayal Shah (left) with his son (centre) and brother at their farm in Siddhi Khurd village in Singrauli. Their land will be acquired for the proposed R-Adag power project. Photograph: Harikrishan Katragadda / Mint
Rural protests are growing across the country, often escalating to violence, such as in Nandigram in West Bengal, where protests led to several deaths last year.
The proposed 4,000MW plant is expected to come up in Sasan in the eastern district of Singrauli, which has been dubbed as the state’s energy hub.
About 11,000MW of capacity will be generated with an investment of over Rs45,000 crore within the next few years in the district, which has been specially carved out in May to speed up power investments.
Power companies, drawn by the region’s rich reserve of coal and water, include Essar Power Ltd, Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd and Hindalco Industries Ltd. According to government statistics, while 2,598.13ha of private land will be required to build these projects, about 1,160ha will be provided by the government.
The proposed Reliance Power Ltd project is estimated to displace about 1,500 families in five villages, and represents a crucial test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which is seeking to fast-track industrial projects ahead of state polls due later this year.
“The BJP is gearing up for the polls and we will be looking at all issues of people, including displacement,” says BJP MP Harin Pathak.
A Reliance spokesperson said, “We have not only agreed to the proposal but will also do more than what the policy requires, such as construction of new houses, giving pension to senior citizens and giving preference to the local labour.”
According to Singrauli district collector Vivek Porwal, R&R packages have been upgraded beyond what had been outlined by the state’s 2002 guidelines for the Reliance project. About 45% of the population who will be affected by the project belong to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. About 772.32ha of cultivable land has been identified for the project; the remaining 424.8ha belongs to the government.
The proposed guidelines specify that land value will be calculated at the current value rather than the previous practice of fixing it from the date when the government first spelt out its intention to acquire land under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.
It also promises one job to each affected family, a longstanding demand of the project-affected community, which will be testified by the labour department. Senior citizens of each household will also receive a pension of Rs1,250 a month. Persons without land will be entitled for compensation for immovable assets such as a well or trees. In addition, houses will be provided to each family.
Farmers in the region have faced multiple displacements in the past due to power and dam projects. “We have yet to see whether our demand for land price will be met, without which we are not willing to give up our land,” says Jagbali Prasad Vaish, a local Bahujan Samaj Party leader, who will lose about 9 acres of land to the Reliance project.
Priyanka P. Narain and Utpal Bhaskar contributed to this story.