In 2000 Jindal confiscated land in Punjipathra village in Chhattisgarh. Its been 18 years, the residents are still waiting for jobs promised to them.
Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), took over the Punjipathra village in Chhattisgarh and started mining in the year 2000. They acquired 1,700 hectares of land for this purpose. As compensation, they promised jobs for the people of Punjipathra. “As compensation, I was only given Rs. 60,000 for the encroached land and the land which was supposed to be sold at Rs. 10 lakh was sold at Rs. 2.5 lakh”, said Shyamkumar, whose 30 acres of land is currently in possession under Jindal and received four-times lesser money than its value.
Legitimising land grab in the name of mining, construction of dams and industries is not new. The iron belt of Raipur, bauxite mines of Sarguja, and Raighar in Chhattisgarh are all cited under Jindal. The burning issue here is the displacement of villagers which is taking place on such a large scale. However, people’s pleas remain unheard.
The residents of Punjipathra village were not provided with any documents regarding compensation or the assured employment when Jindal encroached their lands. These verbal promises made to the people in the village in lieu of lands has still not been fulfilled. “He said to the villagers that he will give jobs, we were somewhat relieved that at least our children will get jobs. So we didn't say anything but no one has gotten any jobs till date”, adds Shyamkumar.
It's been more than 18 years, people are congregating means of livelihood in the residues of solid waste which is being produced by these industries. The major solid waste is in the form of slag which is the waste separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore. Chhattisgarh is one of the leading producers of slag. 89.6% of solid waste generated from Steel Works is recycled or reused and the villagers struggle to make a livelihood out of this. “I have studied till class 12, after that, I was searching for daily wage work because the company didn't give me a job. We are now working with the unused parts of the industry and earning a livelihood out of it”, said Anup Singh Manjhi, from Panujipathra village, who has been working with waste material and slag for nearly 10 -12 years.
In 2014-15 the Mining Industry in India was valued at 3 lakh crores. Many industries and private mining companies like Jindal acquire land by manoeuvring people. While proposing mining and building industries, they are pushing the landowners away from their own land and from their means of sustenance. The families of Punjipathra like other mining-affected villages are now losing hope in the promises made by the powerful mining companies and demand employment.
Video by Community Correspondent Rajesh Gupta.
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team
An illegal public hearing comprising of handpicked villagers was organised in Rayagada district of Odisha in Oct 2021.