Located in Jharkhand near the border of Bangladesh, Godda is a district with a population of more than 13 lakh. More than half of the people there depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. However, the execution of an MoU by Adani Power Limited with the Bangladeshi government changed everything. Here’s how the misery of the people of Godda is in association with the Adani coal power plant.
How Did it all Start?
It started around five years ago when the Indian and Bangladeshi government signed a joint declaration in July 2015. After that, Adani Power Limited entered into a long-term contract with the Bangladeshi government to supply electricity produced at Godda power plant at expensive rates. The project received environmental approval in 2017.
Gautam Adani, the founder of Adani Group and leader of the project, asked the Jharkhand government for 2000 acres of land in 10 Godda villages to build a 1,600-megawatt power plant run by imported coal from Australia. The government has so far acquired 500 acres of private land in four villages–Mali, Motia, Gangta, and Patwa.
Misery of Godda People
Several villagers, including landowners and labourers, complain that the authorities have ignored all their resolutions passed against the plant. The acquisition of land has undercut several safeguards provided under the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. Further, they assert that the authorities have kept out of public hearings and that Adnai has fenced off their land without their consent. The authorities bulldozed several acres of standing crops in August 2018.
Besides producing pollution through the massive burning amount of coal daily, the plant will also put pressure on water resources from the Ganges river, given the vast amount of water required in the operation of the plant. People fell at the feet of the authorities, begging them not to seize their land. However, police filed criminal cases against those who protested against the takeover of land.
Experts have also begun to question the legality of the acquisition. They highlighted that Godda is part of the Santhal Parganas Division governed by the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act which does not allow the transfer, lease, or sale of agricultural land. They have also raised questions over the environmental impact of the plant. Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Institute, a US-based energy research body, stated in a report that the Adani project is financially unviable, given the enormous amounts of coal that will be imported from Australia. Apart from this, it is a poor deal for Bangladesh too.
Residents Move to the High Court
Around 16 villagers have approached the Jharkhand High Court demanding their land back. They opposed the government’s statement declaring the projects as ‘public purpose’ in arguing that the villagers will only bear the brunt of the water contamination and pollution from the plant. The social impact assessment report stated that 90% of the people affected by the project are farmers and farmworkers. However, it did not make any revelation on which type of land (irrigated or multi-cropped) the project involved.
In all, the villagers claim that there nothing good that this coal power plant will do to them. It is purely profit-based including high-cost coal imports from Australia.