Coal block in Birbhum: No mining clearance till displaced are resettled, says Bengal govt

The Indian Express | September 12, 2019

Mamata Banerjee assured that her government will proceed with the work on the coal block only after resettlement of displaced families and addressing environmental concerns.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced that her government has recently received clearance from the Centre to work on Deocha-Pachami coal block in Birbhum district. She said the coal block has the potential to produce nearly one lakh jobs.

However, she assured that her government will proceed with the work on the coal block only after resettlement of displaced families and addressing environmental concerns.

“We will not start work now. We will wait for the resettlement of the displaced families. It is our policy to process only after taking local people into confidence. We have to ensure that they get employment opportunities. Meanwhile, we will conduct surveys with the help of experts before starting on the coal block. We will set up a committee, which will look after all the issues, especially the environmental concerns,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

The CM informed that state government will sign an MoU with the Centre in a week for handover of the block, which she said is the world’s second largest. Banerjee said a refundable deposit of Rs 50 crore has to be made to the central government in this regard.

“There are about 395 families (40 per cent tribals) in Deocha Pachami. The coal block is likely to bring in investments to the tune of Rs 12,000-15,000 crore over a period of time and has the potential to generate nearly one lakh employment opportunities. It will take five years to complete. This is a big project that can supply coal for the next 100 years,” she said after a high-level meeting.

The West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd has been allotted Deocha-Pachami block in the south-western part of Birbhum and Dewanganj Harinsingha block in the western fringe of the district. “We call both these blocks together as Deocha Pachami. We want to take everyone along with the project and do not want anyone to spread misinformation regarding the project,” she said.

The state government will be required to acquire about 9,000 acres out of the project area of 11,222.50 acres. Vested land is estimated to be around 2,000 acres, officials said. “There is forest cover on 5 per cent of project land. We will do the needful for afforestation as per laws,” the CM said. The block has an estimated coal reserve of 2.1 billion tonne.