Tata Steel's proposed Rs10,000 crore green field steel project in Chhattisgarh is facing opposition for farmers.
Tata Steel had, in June 2005, signed an agreement with the state government for setting up a five million tonne steel plant in Bastar, one of the country's most impoverished districts.
Four years on, the Chhattisgarh government, which has agreed to provide the required land for the project, is yet to complete the land acquisition process.
The state government blames the Left parties for leading an agitation by misguiding innocent farmers for their own political self-interests.
"The Tata plant is a must for development of the backward Bastar region. I want to see the project sail through as early as possible. It has already been delayed," chief minister Raman Singh, who also holds the industry portfolio, said.
Out of total 2063.06 hectares meant for the project, 86.5 per cent or 1,784.22 hectares is private land, while 173.03 hectares is government land. The balance 105.81 hectares is revenue and forestland.
The Tata project will cover 10 villages Badanji, Bade Paroda, Belar, Beliyapal, Chindgaon, Dabpal, Dhuragaon, Kumhali, Sirisaguda and Takraguda, mostly dominated by Gond, Muria and Halba tribes, besides poor families belonging to the other backward castes.
The Lohandiguda block is considered one of the most fertile areas in entire Bastar region.
Tata Steel has offered Rs100,000 per hectare of barren land and Rs150, 000 per acre of single crop land and Rs200,000 per acre of multi-crop land as compensation in addition to providing jobs for the project-affected. But, officials said farmers of Sirisaguda, Takraguda and Dhuragaon villages have refused to accept Tata Steel's compensation package.
Tata Steel says it is committed to the project. According to the agreement, "the plant will be set up after land, iron ore, etc are provided to the company."
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, however, said he was "sure the land takeover will be over soon." But, considering the level of opposition by Adivasi Mahasabha, the umbrella organisation of tribal people in the region, that seems unlikely in the immediate future.
The government has acquired nearly 80 per cent of the 2,063.06 hectares identified for the project across 10 villages in the Lohandiguda block. The problem is that 86.5 per cent of the required land is privately held.