Pestering the people’s republic

Adani Enterprise Ltd, which is Adani Group’s flagship company, was set to be the Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) for Machakatta and Chhendipada coal blocks in Angul District of Odisha. But the Supreme Court ruled in September 2014 that process related to land acquisition in the region are to be put on hold.

 

The water-swamped lands of Chhendipada are some of the most productive ones for local farmers. However, the region is equally precious to Adani enterprise as it has a mining capacity of 40 million tonne per annum. The coal ministry had allocated 32 blocks in Odisha region to Adani Group, which is now India’s largest port company. Following the new verdict, the group is now likely to loose contracts of captive consumption on 25 of these sites. Rest 7 were already de-allocated by the government.

 

This is a consequence of the bigger decision made by the Supreme Court of September 25 to axe 215 coal-block allocations nationwide.

 

The lobbying power of Adani Group is hardly a secret. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reported to travel during his campaign earlier this year in private jets owned by Adani Enterprises. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that despite the Supreme Court ruling, the administration tried to hold a public meeting to negotiate with the locals.

 

The company offered to give locals a job and a house in exchange for the land. But to the residents, the land on which they have been farming for generations, isn’t easy to give away. They tried to stop the public hearing, and succeeded, but only after resisting a ‘lathi charge’ by the police.

 

The hearing was cancelled, but it is hard to believe that the case is over. The interest or wishes of local farmers are often conveniently overlooked by an administration cozying-up with big businesses.

 

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