The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has decided to return the land that was acquired from Adivasi farmers in 2005 for a project by Tata Steel in Lohandiguda in Bastar district. Party chief Rahul Gandhi had promised to return the land during a public meeting in Jagdalpur on November 10, ahead of Assembly elections in the state.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has asked officers concerned to start the process to return the land and implement it once the Cabinet approves it, officials told Scroll.in. As many as 1,707 farmers from 10 villages will receive 1,764 hectares of land once the government passes the order, officials said.
“This is historic, considering it has never happened before anywhere in the country,” a government official, who did not want to be identified, said. “It didn’t happen in Nandigram or Singur or elsewhere in the country.”
“The Cabinet is expected to meet in the next few days and the order would be brought to their notice,” the official said. “We expect the Cabinet’s approval on the first day of the meeting itself.”
The previous Bharatiya Janata Party government had signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Steel in 2005 to set up a Rs 19,500-crore integrated steel plant in Bastar district and had acquired 2,044 hectares of land from 10 villages for the purpose. However, the company dropped the plan in 2016.
The Congress had been demanding that the land be returned, but the government claimed that after Tata Steel’s withdrawal from the project, the land was acquired by the Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation and therefore, could not be returned to the original owners.