Petition to quash acquisition of 1,363 acres of agricultural land by Adani Power Plant in Jharkhand
Lawyers associated with Human Rights Law Network have filed a Writ petition at the Ranchi High Court demanding to quash acquisition of 1,363 acres of agricultural land for the purpose of setting up a power plant by a private company Adani Thermal Power Limited at Godda, Jharkhand. The petitioners have requested the Court to also direct the state government to return the land to the owners. The Writ petition has been filed on behalf of 16 petitioners, who claim that the government didn’t consult them before handing over the land to the company and setting up of the power plant is going to affect over 1,300 people. The petition points out, “These petitioners are earning their livelihood from agriculture. They have no other source of income. Their family members are totally dependent on this land for their survival.” The petition further states that all the petitioners fall under the category of affected person as defined in the Act. “They (petitioners) have been observing the entire acquisition very closely since the beginning and found that the acquisition process is entirely illegal and the consent whatsoever is obtained is on the basis of coercion, fraud, undue influence etc. Moreover, the mandatory legal provisions have not been followed,” the petition states. “They further observed that Respondents have only included the landowners in the category of affected persons leaving behind around 4000 agriculture labourers, Bataidaar, Fisherman, Artisans, Tenants, sharecroppers etc. whose livelihood shall be ruined by this acquisition,” the petition states. The petition explains that the private company Adani Power Limited in a letter dated May 6, 2016, requested the state government for allotment of land and stated that it required 1715.82 acres of “private” and 268.49 acres of “government” land for setting up a thermal power plant. After several revisions, the land requirement was reduced to around 1,363 acres. The Private Thermal Power Project, Godda does not come under the definition of “Public Purpose” as defined in section 2(1) of the Act as the entire project is being established for the gain of Private Company Adani Power Limited. As per judgement in Kedar Nath Yadav v. State of West Bengal, 2017, the Supreme Court held that: “…Acquisition which seek to justify as one for ‘Public Purpose’ on the ground that setting up industry would generate employment and promote socio-economic development cannot be permitted in absence of relevant policy documents as that would render Pt.VII, LA Act nugatory and redundant.” The petitioners pointed out that prior consent of landowners was not taken and around 400 affected landowners had written to the government refusing to give their land and they were not made a part of the Social Impact Assessment report. The petitioners informed that over 2,000 trees have been cut illegally by the private company without any prior approval from the authorities and the agricultural land has been acquired by the company depriving thousands of people of their livelihood.