Odisha High Court issues notice and grants stay on eviction of Dalit community inhabiting in Jharsuguda District of Odisha

Amot Oram & Ors V. State of Odisha & Ors: WP(C) No. 4997/2020: Odisha High Court.

Darlipali is a village in the Jharsuguda district of Odisha. The residents belong to the tribal and Dalit community and have been residing there for centuries. The village consists of about 140 houses and is surrounded by Lakhanpur opencast coal mines. In the 1980s, a notification was passed by the Odisha Government declaring its intention to acquire land of Darlipali village for the purpose of opencast coal mining. Subsequently, the government passed various notifications under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for acquiring land in the village. However, the villagers were not given adequate compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement. The Villagers have been fighting for more than the past 25 years to get their due compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement but the government has refused the same and is coercing the villagers to vacate the village.

Due to the coal mines surrounding the village, people are forced to live in a highly polluted environment with no drinking water, no fresh air, and no clean land. The residents are exposed to highly toxic waste. Moreover, due to the blasts in the coal mines, the debris falls on the houses and partially destroys them. Further, the coal company(Mahanadi Coalfields Limited) in collusion with the police is harassing the residents and threatening them of eviction completely ignoring the fact that they cannot be evicted without providing compensation. The residents belong to the economically weaker sections of society and have nowhere else to go. MCL is duty-bound to rehabilitate and resettle the residents before any eviction/demolition drive.

In November, 2019, debris from the blast of a nearby coal mine partially damaged a primary school at Darlipali Village. Thereafter, the residents complained about the incident to the MCL as well as the police, however, in spite of listening to the genuine concerns of the people, on 25.11.2019, about 25 MCL officials and 50 policemen reached the area and demolished the school in order to harass the residents and force them to flee.

The residents of Village Darlipali have been fighting for their rights and voicing their concerns with respect to illegal evictions through peaceful protests and hunger strikes, but shockingly, a police official in connivance with MCL have filed false and frivolous cases against the villagers to suppress dissent and scare them into surrender

Therefore, in February’2020, a case was filed on behalf of the villages praying for a stay on eviction, further for adequate compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement of the villages. On 18.2.2020, Court took cognizance of the matter and issued a notice, further Court granted stay on the eviction of the villagers.