Exactly a month ago Prime Minister said ” Sarvam Aatmam Vasham Sukham. That which is in your control gives you happiness. We have to move ahead with new energy “announcing a new package of Rs 20 lakh crore. I am not going into the details of those packages and what it really means to the poor. This was aimed at self-dependence, Atmanirbhar, and he egged people with his inimitable slogan – Local pe Vocal – “We need to be vocal for our local products. Not just buy but also publicise them.”What is happening in Chhattisgarh today with the central government owned Coal India subsidiary is in strong contrast to the statements made in the air in Delhi.
Coal India Limited in 2007, before the 2008 Mining policy decided that project affected people from the coal mines should form cooperative societies and get registered under the local laws. Such societies would have 100% exemption from submitting the earnest money deposit and 20% of the work of transportation of coal and sand to be earmark for award to cooperatives at the lowest (L1) cost or at the scheduled rates.
Since 2007 in several mining areas of the subsidiaries of coal India local people have been attempting to form cooperatives and recent times producer companies to access these opportunities.They too wanted to join the mainstream in economic development.In several of these cases the people who were intent where those who were not properly rehabilitated or were not compensated. The Coal India subsidiaries have still to demonstrate even one example of proper resettlement and rehabilitation. One of the producer company has named itself the coal mines “bhuvisthapith” company, meaning company of displaced.
However none of the subsidiaries of Coal India ever proactively attempted to enable the local communities to partake in the economic activity and as growingly most of the activities of the subsidiaries their outsourced there was a huge vested interest created between corrupt officials and the cronies.
Korba district in Chhattisgarh has been witness to massive coal mining and industrialisation since the 80s,has thousands of families who have neither been provided the proper compensation nor have been resettled and rehabilitated properly have been struggling over the past decade to plead for the implementation of this policy. They had this time also petitioned to the Prime Minister and in response to the the enquiry from the PMO had informed that they were giving preference to such affected persons and awarded contracts and tenders and even relaxed the condition of depositing the Earnest Money, which is an essential part of any tender in 2017 itself and since then people had been more hopeful.
Constant pestering and occasional protests by the communities were quelled and in 2018 the South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) unable to withstand local pressure agreed in the meeting of its functional directors after detailed deliberations that they will on a “trial basis” implement this in the Saraipalli OCP. The coal companies like several other industries have been taking the cover of covid-19 to accomplish some of the dirty operations and had issued a tender to start the Saraipalli Open Cast Minein Bud Bud village. This completely disappointed the people who had formed a Cooperative Society and hoped to find their wherewithal and were agreeing to part with everything that they possessed. They were quite sure that any protest by them would invariably lead to police Action and arrest. They have approached the High Court which has called for the company to respond affirmatively.
Sensing from the statements made by the company’s counsel, that the tender was a composite one and not just for transport and therefore the policy did not apply, the local people have got a hint of the seditious manner in which the company has provoked have resorted to innovative ways of protesting by maintain physical distance, wearing masks and sitting in front of the gate of the different projects of the company.
People are worried that the SECL may be up to more tricks to deny them and realise that the PM’s slogans or even undertaking given by the company to the PMO does not actually happen in reality. It is strange that the State Government behave like mute spectators without positively intervening on behalf of their people. If in the new dispensation when so much of concessions are showered on the private sector, why should not the people get what is legitimate and reasonable. Afterall they were the original owners of that land! In the energy sector it seems all “Sukham” is reserved for the corporates.