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West Bengal villagers resist DVC wall construction, Police jeep burnt

Posted by Admin on August 20, 2009

20and1.jpgPolce jeeps burn in Andal. Picture by Gour Sharma

Durgapur, Aug. 19: Villagers led by the Trinamul Congress today resisted the construc- tion of a boundary wall for an upcoming DVC power plant in Burdwan’s Andal and fought police demanding that a crematorium be spared.

They pelted the police with stones, burnt three jeeps and brought to a halt construction of the wall for the 1,000MW plant, 180km from Calcutta. Two policemen had to be hospitalised with cracked skulls and five others needed first aid.

The Trinamul man leading the charge also added a new demand. “All sharecroppers and labourers who worked on this land (700 acres) should get compensation,” panchayat leader Raju Roy said.

The proposed power plant needs 1,000 acres. The state government acquired 700 acres for the central government unit without a hitch last year as the land was not very fertile. But the villagers wanted an alternative plot nearby to house the crematorium.

Several rounds of talks were held between the villagers and the administration over the past year, but no alternative could be worked out.

When work near the burning ghat started around 9.30 this morning, 400 villagers led by Roy descended on the spot and ordered the labourers to stop. The DVC officials at the site were chased away.

A police patrol reached within minutes but was forced to retreat. Reinforcements led by the Andal officer-in-charge were also beaten back.

A force armed with tear gas came next. The tyres of their vans were deflated and windshields smashed, but the gas did the trick.

The police were conducting raids on the villages till late tonight for the culprits. “We have arrested 20 people,” said Durgapur additional superintendent of police Utpal Naskar.

In Calcutta, Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi blamed the administration and the DVC for the trouble. “The government should have found an alternative plot and the DVC should have waited for it,” he said.

Block development officer Mohua Mandal said the villagers had been told to find a suitable plot for the crematorium, which occupies about a third of an acre. “They haven’t been able to show us any,” she said.

The nearest other crematorium is about 15km away.

DVC chief engineer Asutosh Chakraborty said the construction of the wall had been stopped. “With expensive equipment for the main power pl-ant coming every day, we need the wall for security reasons,” he added.

The plant is supposed to be ready by September 2010.

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