Chhattisgarh assembly stalled over ‘dam sell-out’

Raipur, March 3 (IANS) The Chhattisgarh assembly was repeatedly disrupted and finally adjourned for the day Thursday after the opposition Congress charged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had ‘sold’ an irrigation dam to a private company setting up a power plant in the state.

Congress members said the BJP government has been blindly supporting industrial firms by ignoring the interests of the common people in Janjgir-Champa district. It asked the BJP government to explain ‘why it had sold out a dam’ to a private company setting up a 3,600 MW power plant.

Congress legislators said there was no need to level the dam to give way to the power plant. The dam was constructed in 1962 by the undivided Madhya Pradesh government.

Congress legislators led by Mohammed Akbar raised slogans against the BJP government and sought a statement from Chief Minister Raman Singh, while the treasury benches led by Environment Minister Rajesh Munat countered the accusations. Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik adjourned the house for five minutes soon after question hour.

The uproar continued when the house reassembled and the speaker adjourned till 1 p.m. and then for 3 p.m. and thereafter for the day.

The opposition members insisted that the state government should immediately cancel the land allotted to the power company on which the dam was constructed as the local people were still using the dam water for daily use while it was also a big source of recharging ground water in the area.

Janjgir-Champa district has nearly 80 percent of its land under irrigation and has a track record of producing 34-35 quintals of paddy from a hectare compared to the average 16-17 quintals per hectare in other districts of central India.

But in the next three to five years, the district will become India’s power hub as the state government has signed 34 separate contracts with power companies to set up coal-fired plants there.

If the deals are fully implemented, this district alone will generate over 40,000 MW of power. In the process, these projects will eat up not less than 40,000 acres of the country’s best cultivated fertile land.

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