Adani groups's power station threatens the homes and livelihood of Santhal tribetext_fields
Adani's coal-fired power station in Godda, Jharkhand, displaced members of the Santhal tribe from their lands rendering them without home and livelihood.
Chintamani Shah, a retired teacher who lost four acres to the plant says, "These two villages belong to the Santhal tribe. Land is essential to the Santhal people. It is an intrinsic part of their culture."
On 5th March, 2017, a public consultation was held regarding the project under heavy police deployment. The police assaulted and opened fire on the natives without allowing them to attend the meeting. In 2018, the construction of the plant commenced. Almost 40% of the plan is now complete as reported by Geoff Law of Adani watch in April 2020.
The power station shall employ coal from Adani group's Carmichael mine in Australia which shall be shipped to India via Dhamra port in Odisha. The electricity thus generated will be exported to Bangladesh.
"There are still farmers amongst us who still have not given consent and yet their land has been forcibly taken," says Chintamani. The police also took cases for criminal trespassing on those who refused to give up on their lands.
Though they promised employment for those in the village, the company went back on their word. 18000-20000 tonnes of coal are burnt per day causing immense pollution and threatening the lives of the natives. The villages, already scarce of water, fear for drought.
The community is faced with loss of land and livelihood, pollution, water scarcity, police brutality and state violence. A few have filed cases with the police as well as with the High court of Jharkhand for their land. "We are still fighting. We are ready to die on our land," says a woman from the village.
The petitioners have also challenged the acquisition of property by the State of Jharkhand for the project. By law, government can acquire property for a private company only if the project is for a "public purpose".
They argue that as the power is being generated for Bangladesh, it doesn't qualify as public purpose. State of Jharkhand has refuted the claim on ground that a small per cent of the power shall be made available to Jharkhand.
The massive amount of energy produced, 1.6 GW, would then be sold to Bangladesh who shall have to pay for the high transportation costs of coal from Australia despite the availability of cheaper and sustainable ways of energy production.
"This company should be boycotted," says Chintamani.
(This report is edited by Anan Ashraf)