KOLKATA: Under pressure to step up production, Coal India Ltd (CIL) has sweetened its offers for land acquisition. The new rehabilitation and resettlement (RnR) policy was recently approved by the CIL board.
According Mr R. Mohan Das, Director (personnel and IR), in addition to price of land, the Indian miner will now offer Rs 5 lakh an acre to farmers as “compensation” to loss of livelihood with options of annuity income. The compensation, however, will not be available if the land loser opts for employment in CIL.
According to the previous policy, the coal major offered price for land and one job for land holding in excess of two acres. The additional compensation will therefore be of help particularly to the small farmers (owning less than two acres), who miss the employment opportunities.
Though the total number of job offers in a particular project is capped at half of the number of acres to be acquired, CIL now extends greater autonomy to mining subsidiaries in offering jobs depending on the average land-holding in the area.
Offers for homestead were also increased substantially.
According to sources, the sweetened offers will be immediately put to test at Gevra mine under Chhatisgarh headquartered South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL). The 30 million tonne (annual) open cast project, arguably one of the largest in CIL family, was facing dwindling production outlook due to resistance to land acquisition.
However, this is just the beginning. The company was in need of as much as 60,000 hectres to step up production by 160 mt to 520 mt during the Eleventh Plan (2007-12).
With current production at 431 mt, CIL has an uphill task of acquiring majority of the identified land during Plan-XII.
The new policy, however, banks heavily on the State Governments to decide the price of land as in Chhatisgarh. The State Government has notified a price of Rs 10 lakh an acre for industrial usage.
While Orissa is reportedly planning a move in the same direction, Jharkhand, one of the major coal bearing States, is nowhere near considering the option.
The problems are more apparent in West Bengal, where land is highly fragmented and the State Government keeps itself out of the issues pertaining to land requirement for industry.