Monday, July 15, 2024

Agonies of affected farmers mount at Barapukuria

Compensation not paid in three months
Sufferings of the locals who could not grow aman crop due to subsidence of land around Barapukuria colliery in the last few seasons, have multiplied as they have not been given compensation three months after the harvest this season.
No one can say when the affected farmers will get the compensation as the matter has been shuttling between the Barapukuria coal mine company (BCMCL) and the deputy commissioner’s office of Dinajpur.
Locals and officials concerned told New Age that BCMCL gave compensation for subsidence of croplands regularly before harvest over the past few seasons.
The deputy commissioner’s office took responsibility for all compensations and land acquisition for the Barapukuria coalmine project after the government had declared a compensation package on November 8, 2010.
BCMCL managing director Mohammad Kamruzzaman told New Age that the deputy commissioner’s office was conducting a survey to make an assessment of the damage done to cropland, businesses and habitation by land subsidence. ‘We are no more concerned about it’, he added.
Most of the solvent farmers became day labourers after mining started at Barapukuria as they lost their croplands partially or fully due to land subsidence.
Ataur Rahman of Barapukuria bazar area with five dependents was now flat broke after losing his five acres of farmland to the coalmine. Mojibur Rahman, an elderly farmer of Jigagari village, told New Age that his three acres of farmland, which had subsided due to mining, had been the only means of livelihood for his 15-member family.
‘One acre was lost to subsidence two years back and the rest two acres have also started subsiding. No one from the authorities concerned offered me any compensation… Now how can I run this large family…,’ he said.
Almost all affected families of Jigagari, Kalupara, Baidyanathpur, Balarampur and Pachgharia mauzas have similar stories to tell.
BCMCL had been compensating people for lost farmlands since 2005-06 fiscal year after 9.5 acres of cropland had subsided for the first time for coal extraction from Barapukuria mine.
In 2009-10 fiscal year, the amount of subsided farmland increased to 201.7 acres and BCMCL gave affected farmers Tk 36,700 as compensation for Boro crop on an acre.
Farmers at Jigagari told New Age that coal extraction had triggered land subsidence in new areas in the north of the village which would greatly affect farmers who had already planted Boro seedlings for the present season.
In this situation, Barapukuria Bhumi o Shampad Rakhya Committee and local wing of the Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Port and Power submitted a memorandum to the BCMCL office demanding resumption of compensation to the affected farmers. Or, the committees warned, they would go for tougher programmes from this month, said the leaders of the organisations.
Mohammad Jamal Uddin Ahmed, deputy commissioner of Dinajpur, told New Age that his office was instructed by the government to pay compensation to the affected people but it needed to conduct a survey first.
But the locals were not allowing the DC office to conduct any survey fearing that they would not be compensated once the survey was over, said the DC office sources.
Rabiul, a resident of Barapukuria bazar area, told New Age that the villagers had lost confidence as no formal declaration had came from the higher level of the administration in the new compensation package declared by the government.
People of Jigagri on February 20 obstructed a government move to make an assessment of the property damaged for compensation after a survey team led by two magistrates went to Barapukuria bazar.
Earlier locals had refused to accept the compensation package of Tk 190 crore announced by the government on November 8, 2010 as it did not contain any rehabilitation scheme for 406 affected people.
In early January, the state minister for land, Mostafizur Rahman, also local member of parliament, announced that the government was considering the rehabilitation issue in the revised compensation package.


Courtesy of New Age

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