KANIHA: Tension mounted at Kaniha police station as over 300 villagers of Jarada village at Kaniha have gheraoed Kaniha police station today in protest against the arrest of 23 villagers by police and forcible mining operation on their land by Kaniha mine authorities.
The villagers have vowed not to leave the police station until the demands are not met. Earlier on the day, police arrested 23 villagers on charges of obstructing the mining operation. Police forwarded the villagers to court.
According to reports Jarada village and its agricultural land have been acquired by MCL years ago and villagers have got all rehabilitation benefits as per the police. But the villagers are still in their village because both the state government and MCL have failed to provide alternative land for their resettlement till now.
On the otherhand, Kaniha mining authorities could not utilize their acquired and because of the opposition by the villagers who demanded resettlement site first. As the mining authorities required the land urgently they with the help ofpolice force today started mining operation on the acquired village land. This was protested by the villagers vehemently.
Police picked up 23 of them and arrested them. The mining authorities after that continued the operation on those lands. In protest the irate villagers rushed to the police station and laid a siege demanding the release of their fellow villagers and stopped mining work.
Senior police officers like SDPO Pallahara Ranjita Singh reached the spot and started talk with the villagers. Talcher sub collector Biswa Mohan Ratha has meanwhile also rushed to the spot to see the mining operation continued.
Jartindra Sahoo,Samiti member Jarada panchayat said,”We were protesting peacefully for our demands. The authorities with the help of police illegally arrested the villagers. Our agitation will continue till demands are met.
About 750 families have become displaced(DPs) and more than 800 acres of land were acquired by MCL authorities in 1995.
Sahoo said,”“We have been waiting 25 years to get resettled and get compensation.We approached everywhere to mitigate our problems.But failed”.
He alleged that though they have lost their homestead land, agricultural land and houses are yet to get resettlement site and jobs to few other families.
The general manager of Kaniha area K K Roul said,"The village land of Jarada has been acquired by the company ten years ago with the payment of all compensation and rehabilitation benifits.MCL provided the villagers Jobs too. Now we are mining on our own land without any blasting so that there will be no harm to them for staying in the village".
The Kaniha coal mine produces 30,000 tonne of coal per day and supplies it to National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)'s Kaniha plant.