Land sinking fast, Cabinet nod to Rs 10k crore Jharia rehabilitation on card

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, February 7: The Union Cabinet is soon likely to give its nod to one of the biggest rehabilitation efforts in decades amid fast sinking of land in Jharia has rung alarm bells in the Central and the state governments. Sources revealed that the rehabilitation package for over one lakh affected people has been approved by the committee, which was tasked to suggest the way out, which has the concurrence of the Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

“Given the urgency since the land is sinking, all stakeholders have concurred on the rehabilitation package and if there is any financial shortfall, the Central government will foot the bill. The rehabilitation will be undertaken in two phases in Jharia. There are about one lakh four thousand people who are affected and they all will be rehabilitated,” sources in the government revealed following a meeting which was presided over by the Cabinet Secretary and attended by the Chief Secretary of Jharkhand along with senior officials of several ministries.

Following drone survey, a total of 556 sites in the region where land is stated to be sinking in the coal-mining belt were identified for the rehabilitation. “In the first phase, the people residing in 81 sites will initially be rehabilitated. The people were identified by the 2004 Census and also by another Census in 2017. It has been decided that the government will go by the findings of the 2017 Census. Also, the high level meeting has agreed that the affected people will be given compensation in accordance with the 2013 Land Acquisition Law,” sources stated.

Over 64,000 people residing at 475 sites will be rehabilitated in the second phase, stated the sources, adding that an affected person will get a minimum of Rs five lakh and an additional Rs 50,000 for transportation purposes. “Since the people are being rehabilitated on account of disaster, even those who don’t have the land title at any of the affected site will be eligible for compensation,” added the sources.

Sources said that the Union Cabinet will soon take up the package for approval by which the Coal Indian Limited will bear a cost of Rs 6,000 crores and the rest Rs 4,000 crores will be borne by the Jharkhand government. “If there is a cost spillover, the Centre will foot the bill,” added the sources.

Also, it has been decided that the several ministries such as the Railways, Road and Surface Transport, Public Works Departments and others will take the onus for shifting the existing rail tracks, national highways, roads and other infrastructure in the affected region. “The plan will also be made for the skilling of the affected people who will be rehabilitated so that employment is found for them, which is essential to convince them to shift out of the affected sites, which are sinking on account of coal fire underneath the ground,” sources added.

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