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They were not informed about the hearing which was organized in officers’ club, far from Bharat Coking Coal Limited’s project site

Tribal people from 14 villages of Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district wore black ribbons around their foreheads for the public hearing of the proposed coal mining project of Bharat Coking Coal Limited [2] (BCCL, a subsidiary of public sector undertaking Coal India Limted) at Karpuria block[3]. Their loud protests led to the public hearing being cancelled within an hour of its start on Tuesday morning.

Angry tribals of Kanchanpur, Karpuria, Rampur, Domogora, Devagam, Novadih, Malkera, Dubrajpur, Chainpur, Patrakuli, Diyagoda, Bohdih, Rudi and Olidih demanded immediate cancellation of public hearing despite repeated requests of officials to stay calm.

The protesters asked the panel of BCCL and district administration officials why the villagers were not informed about the public hearing. Officials clarified that an advertisement was placed in the local dailies about the time and venue of the hearing.

The response angered the villagers. “Have you studied the literacy rate in the 14 villages? And have you ever studied the number of newspaper subscribers in the proposed mining area?” they demanded to know.

The poverty-ridden residents have minimal money to buy food. In such circumstances would a poor tribal buy a newspaper? the protesters asked.

Irate over the casual attitude of officials, the people charged towards the dais, chanting anti-BCCL slogans. Armed policemen stopped them.

BCCL general manager, AK Dutta, tried to placate the residents by announcing free sops like distribution of food grains and development if the public hearing goes in favour of the proposed project. “Coal will bring money and development in the area,” Dutta said.

Offer of sops irks protesters

The offer of sops made people angrier. “You want coal and you are not interested in welfare of poor villagers,” they said.


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