Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:52 pm (PST)
Bastar villagers protest against Tata steel plant Reetesh Kumar SahuSaturday, November 17, 2007 (Bastar)
While Nandigram still simmers, there is another land-related dispute brewing in Bastar in Chhattisgarh where farmers are up in arms against a proposed steel plant by the Tatas.
The farmers in the tribal Bastar area in Chhattisgarh are fighting to hold on to their land. They say that the government is forcibly evicting them to make way for the 10,000 crore steel plant to be built by the Tatas.
Protests have reached a pitch where government officials and the police are running scared to visit the affected villages.''They were about 300 in numbers, carrying lathis. They spoke against the Tatas. They accused us of disbursing compensation to the project affected people. They asked us why we were patrolling during night,'' said Anant Ram Nag, an injured police constable.
A villager of Bastar said, ''They are threatening us. People are opposing the Tatas. We are not afraid. We will stay here and die here.''
Some villagers who work for government departments say they are being threatened with transfers or even dismissal if they don't part with their land for the project.
The Tatas will need more than 4,000 acres of land in 10 villages in Bastar for its steel's plant.With the protests getting stronger, the Chhattisgarh government has been able to only acquire only a fourth of that so far.
GS Mishra, Collector, Bastar said, ''They are trying to create unrest and a law and order problem. Is it possible that the administration could threaten and force the people to accept compensation towards land acquisition' '.