Chhattisgarh farmers renew protest against power project

Raipur, Jan 18 (IANS) About 150 farmers Tuesday renewed their protest in Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa district against land acquisition by a private company for an upcoming thermal power plant project, police said.

‘Farmers have renewed their protest, accusing the company of forcibly trying to take over their lands. We have strengthened police deployment in the area as protesters are raising slogans against the company and we fear repeat of Monday’s incident,’ a senior police officer told IANS here.

He added that police were holding talks with the protesters to defuse the tense situation.

The protest comes a day after the arrest of about 100 farmers who were marching through Nariyara village in Janjgir-Champa district, some 170 km from state capital Raipur, and reportedly tried to storm the local office of KSK Energy Ventures Limited that has planned to set up the 3,600 MW coal-fired plant in the village.

The demonstration urned violent when police caned the protesters in which at least 25 people were injured.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ajit Jogi has backed the farmers’ movement and called Monday’s police action ‘a barbaric move against peace-loving farmers’.

Janjgir-Champa district is located in the centre of Chhattisgarh and has the state’s prime agriculture double-crop land. The local people are reportedly highly upset with the government decision to allow 33 private power majors to acquire land for setting up coal-based plants.

Activists have been questioning the government’s move to offer prime land to industries in a district where over 70 percent of land has irrigation cover.

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