IN 1793 Lord Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Land Settlement. By the induction of this land tenure, the zamindars (or landlords) became the hereditary permanent holders of the land. They got the legitimate right to loot and exploit. 212 years after this Act, in 2005 the UPA-I government, proposed a new legislation - The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2005. By this Act, it was proposed that the acquired land under this law could not be sold to anyone and that the forest areas should be protected. Bodies like Van Suraksha Samitis (VSS, forest protection committees) or gram committees would be formed to monitor all the aspects.
In 2014 the BJP came into power. The government was indifferent to distributing pattas (title deeds) among the adivasis. The state governments like the TMC-led one in Bengal also followed the path of the central government. Using this fake development narrative, the TMC government is planning to evict the adivasis, the minorities, and the dalits from their lands. It is the responsibility of all the people who believe in democracy to stand firmly against this heinous attempt by the state government. Deucha Pachami open cast coal mine is nothing but the effort of the TMC government to encroach land of the adivasis.
In Birbhum, the government of west bengal has acquired 3, 294 kms area out of 10 square km of forest land for the Deucha Pachami mining project. For this project 21,000 adivasis are on the verge of losing land and may be relegated to the category of migrants.
This proposed coal mining project is going to bring environmental hazards for the people living from Dubrajpur to Siuri and Illambazar area. In future, it will make the whole area a desert. The 10-12-inch-thick layer of the soil where farming happens takes 10,000 years to form. Coal mining will change the structure of the soil and the whole land will turn barren.
The top-soil where we live and farm takes thousands of years to be formed – at least 10,000 years. This is commonly called soil. The vegetation soil is 5 to 10 inches thick. Just below the topsoil layer is the subsoil layer or alluvium (1 to 2 metres thick.) In some places, it can be thicker. The surface soil which is 5 to 10 inches thick is very important for our habitat. After the subsoil, the layers look like soil but it is not soil. The open cast coal mine of Deucha Pachami will destroy these layers and our environment.
My work engages with the narratives of people living around the mining zones of Deucha Pachami and the historically rooted exploitation of land, water, creature, and other natural resources by powers that chose to ignore the condition of people who were originally its inhabitants.
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