A company is establishing a thermal Power project in the Niwari Block of Tikam Garh. It is one of the poorest and most backward districts of the country. Another agency has been engaged to the job of mediation and preparing the local farmers. Through their communication skills they are convincing the local population to sell their land. The plant will change the overall picture of the area. Not all promises will be fulfilled. They tell that if you give your land, you will get a free world class hospital, and the best education for your children.
It will need about 1500 to 1700 acres of land in Niwari Block of Tikam Garh about 35 km from Jhansi. Land acquisition has started and should be completed in one to two years time. Farmers are being told to cooperate, or their land will be taken by force. SDM Shri RK Gohat is telling the local people that an MOU has been signed between the company and the state government, and that the district administration has nothing to do with this.
Farmers are free to sell and negotiate. The Government has not decided any rate. These are small farmers. Their number will be around 1500. Some even have half a bigha land. Two hundred acres of land has already purchased. It is good agriculture land close to Pareechhka Dam in Jhansi, UP. There is already a power station at the dam. Jhansi is in UP and Tikam Garh is in MP. Distribution of power is yet not known. Orcha, famous tourist place is in Niwari Block.
Wheat, ground nut, mustard and lentils etc crops are grown here. In Devri Kalrav panchayat farmers like Banke Banskar, Amaan Banskar, Dabloo Banskar, Ram Gopal Tiwari, Krishna Ahirwar, Ashok Ahirwar, Achoo Matoley, Khushi Ram, Sita Ram Ahirwar and others, have already sold their land in price range of Rs. 70,000 to 2.5 lakh per acre. Sub Registrar for land sale sits at Niwadi. while the Tehsildar has his office here. The farmers are affected by continuous drought and land does not yield much. What is point of living here. The money will help in paying off old loans. Some farmers are calculating. Then they will move away to cities like Delhi for living.
Bijore is different, farmers here like Mharam Yadav, Ashok Gupta, and Mahesh Gupta do not want to sell their land at current price. They think that land will now go anyway. They want better price at Government rate. It should be sufficient to purchase land and house somewhere. They fear sliding in to poverty after land is gone. Hence better deal is expected. Many are not even aware that their land is next on the list. If it was done by the state, there would be declaration in the news papers, and individual farmers would be informed.
Farmers are also scared that ash will completely disturb their lives. The fishing community in neighbouring villages feel that their earning will be finished since ash will kill the fishes. Most of them are guessing all kinds of possibilities. But nobody is aware of full facts. Local people are not informed about the details. No government officer or company person bothers to inform the public about the full impact of the scheme. How will it affect their lives of people, what will happen to their health and water.
This is already drought prone area of Bundelkhand. Tikam Garh is known for its feudal and caste divided society and alarmingly low sex ratio. Surrounded by Jhansi, Lalitpur and Chattarpur. A group of local residents have decided to find out the details and demand for justice for the people.
Some questions being asked by local people include:
- What will be effect of the thermal plant on women, children and environment, what will be done for land coming under residential area?
- Was the scheme discussed with the local Gram Sabha and Panchayats? Was their approval taken?
- Who decides the rate of land? Is it as per government norms, or are farmers being individually contacted? Here the powerful are getting a better deal, but the poor are being marginalized?
- Bundelkhand is a chronic drought prone area. Its precious agricultural land will further shrink.
- Will there be any legal agreement between the company and the communities on the promises made like hospital, schools, free electricity, jobs, plantation and rehabilitation etc?
- How can the state government sign an agreement without consulting local communities, especially if the land belongs to farmers?
- Has some formal announcement been made in the area with loud speaker, duggi, leaflets through a panchayat sammelan or mahila sammelan? Is right to information of the people being violated?
- Most farmers have small land holdings; their compensation for land will be inadequate to meet their rehabilitation need? Is there any plan for rehabilitation?
- Have the DM and other officials issued a notification, since some Government land will also be involved?
There is complete lack of information about the thermal power plant. Most of the information is based on informal discussions. It is requested that all the concerned persons and agencies take initiative to explore the full details and implications of the project. Your help may be needed if violations of rights and entitlements occur.
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