SKM raises voice for Bengal farmers fighting proposed mining project

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The Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Tuesday said it has noted with alarm reports that farmers of Deocha-Panchami-Harinsingha-Dewanganj area of West Bengal’s Birbhum district are being forced to accept a “compensation package” announced by the state government for giving up their farmlands and pastures for a greenfield coal mining project.

“It is learnt that about a third of such farmers are Santhal adivasis and there is also a sizeable population from the minority community and disadvantaged classes. It is reported that the state government has not followed the legal process of holding gram sabhas, presenting the mining project details and rehabilitation package in such sabhas, and obtaining consent from the villagers in such sabhas,” the SKM, a consortium of farmers that had led the anti-farm laws agitation, said in a statement.

Instead, it alleged, that the administration has followed a clandestine process of obtaining purported consent from individuals, “which is illegal”.

It also alleged that democratic and peaceful protests by farmers are being “brutally repressed” by the local police and administration and “a reign of terror has been unleashed on adivasi villagers, many of whom, along with activists who are supporting them, have been arrested and jailed”.

Stating that the farmers should not be compelled to give up their farmlands, pastures, homestead and farm livelihood for the sake of mining and industry “unless they give their consent through a process clearly laid down in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013,” the SKM said it will work to protect the right and interest of farmers and stand with India’s agrarian society in any crisis they face.

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