“We are forced to live in the open as our land has been acquired by the mine owners who are threatening the villagers with guns and hooliganism,” said Avinash, a resident of Cheeru in the Palamu region of Jharkhand.
The local residents in his village are currently waging resistance against the dictatorial tactics of Anjani Kumar, the owner of Duntuta mines. The ongoing dharna of the villagers has entered its sixth day, but the prolonged struggle has been on for the past three years. In a lastditch effort to safeguard their lands and livelihood, the rural population have been protesting throughout the month of December, challenging the forest department as well as the mining department to immediately shutdown the project. The locals have alleged that, on the night of January 8, over 30-40 goons entered the village and wreaked havoc firing about 11 rounds, causing damage to their property and vandalising the area.
The local residents explained that the mines have been running in illegal ways primarily because of the hand in glove approach of the state administration and the brow beating and manipulations by Anjani Kumar in acquiring the area for the Duntuta mines. Avinash said, “The land which was acquired by the mines had to be limited to about 9 acres, however, through illegal land acquisition in the area, the mine currently extends over approximately 25 acres.” The land acquired for the mine belongs to the villagers and was supposed to be used to construct houses under the Pradhanmantri Awaas Yojana. The locals also alleged that the acquired land is revenue free and has been doled out by the administration to Kumar.
The mines are situated at a distance of just 30 meters from the village. The pollution which stems out of the regular blasts at the mine has been causing severe damage to the locals. Even the water levels in the region have gone down due to the blasts. These blasts have also caused damage to the animals in the village.
The villagers cooking in the open at the protest site
The protesting locals have resolved to continue their dharna until the mining project is not suspended. The residents of the village have also demanded strict action against Anjani Kumar alongside the release of those local residents who have been framed in false cases.
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