Amid protests from some villagers residing in the proposed Deocha Pachami coal block area, West Bengal government on Monday announced the revised relief and rehabilitation package making the compensation more attractive for land losers.

As per the revised relief and rehabilitation package, a person having land in the area will get double the market value of the land along with 100 per cent solatium as land cost ( i.e. around ₹13 lakh per bigha). The State government has raised the house building compensation to ₹7 lakh from ₹5 lakh revising the size of house to 700 sq ft from 600 sq ft.

“Built-up area of the individual houses to be provided to all familieshas been increased from 600 sq ft to 700 sq ft. Compensation in lieu of built up house (for those who will opt for money) increased from ₹5 lakh per family to ₹7 lakh,” said an official statement from the State government.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also reiterated that there will be no force acquisition of land for the government owned ₹35,000 crore Deocha Pachami coal mining project, touted to be the largest in the country.

“We want to acquire land for the mining project which will create one lakh jobs. Government will develop this project and no land will be given to the private. We have also modified the compensation in the Cabinet so that people are benefited. Despite this, if anyone does not want to give land we will not force and will develop the project excluding that portion,” Banerjee said after the Cabinet meeting.

The government has also increased the subsistence allowance to all families in the area to ₹1.5 lakh from ₹1 lakh. The total investment in the rehabilitation package is estimated to be around ₹10,000 crore.

The original package provided for one employment for a member of every family as junior police constable. Now in the revised package, those with higher qualifications will be provided with a higher grade posting in police department or an equivalent posting in other departments. (a total of 5,100 persons), it said.

This apart, long term occupants in the area will be provided with land patta and compensation package. According to Banerjee, compensation and support is offered to people who don’t even have any legal right with land or building in the area.

Community development initiatives

The State government also approved and initiated several community development initiatives and infrastructural work in the area.

It has planned a Panchi Parhan production centre (to manufacture dress for tribal girls and boys through SHG women); a motor training centre for youth; pathasala for students from coal block area. Besides, it plans to construct three new hostels for the students from ST communities.

There are 12 villages in the area having around 4,314 households with a population of 21,033. The Deocha-Pachami-Dewanganj-Harisingha coal block is at Md. Bazar block in Birbhum district of West Bengal and is spread over an area of 12.31 Sq. Km, i.e. around 3400 acres having around 1,000 acre of government land (300 acre forest land and 700 acre government land).

The block has a reserve of around 1,198 million tonnes of coal and 1,400 million cubic meter basalt (black stone).