Resettlement row over Sipat project continues
Protests are continuing at the national thermal power commission's (NTPC's) power project in Sipat, Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district. Work on the 12,000 crore, 2,980 megawatt project, expected to solve power problems in the region, has come to a virtual halt due to protests by the displaced people demanding jobs and rehabilitation. More than 3,000 families have been protesting since the inception of the project in 1998.
Negotiations under the patronage of chief minister Raman Singh were also not able to solve the decade old problems. On November 23, 2007 NTPC's managing director P Shankarlingam assured the chief minister that he would plan out in a month for rehabilitation and job'. But the protestors say the plans are where yet. The project displaced about 3,500 families in eight villages and affected about 1300 hectares. Villagers say NTPC has promised jobs to a member in each of the displaced family. They say NTPC has given jobs to just 32 people. Praveen Patel of the agitating Tribal Welfare Society says, "NTPC always avoided a discussion with the displaced.'
On August 20, 2004, the displaced people staged protest led by Badridhar Deewan, the deputy speaker of the state assembly. Dilendra Kaushil, a displaced villager says, "NTPC took over a pond spread in more than 4 ha in this area. This was a major source of water for villagers. The company promised another pond which is yet to happen after a decade'. V Pradhan, general manager at NTPC, Seepat says, "We are running into loss because of the production loss due to protests. We agree to provide employment to 692 displaced people. But they are demanding job for all the more than 3,000 which is not possible for us.'
NTPC made an agreement with the state water resources department to get water from Hasdeo-Bango dam in the nearby Korba district. The government was supposed to would provide 12 crore cubic meter water per year which it doesn't give now. State irrigation minister Hemchand Yadav says, "The agreement with NTPC ended in February 2007. So why should we give it water?' Apparently, lack of water has worsened the problems with the project which was expected to be operational by June 2007.