Villagers lose homes, land to feed India's booming power sector

(Reuters, 29 Oct 2018) As energy-hungry India seeks to fuel its continued economic growth, millions of people are being pushed out of their homes by companies, villagers say.

Siyaram Saket refuses to give up his one-and-a-half acres of farmland in central India - no matter how much the coal mining company offers him.

Whatever the amount, said the 55-year-old, it will not be enough to replace the value of the fertile land feeding his family of six in Pidarwah village, Singrauli district.

He knows of people in nearby villages who moved on the promise by the government and power companies of money, jobs or homes in exchange for their land a decade ago.

Now homeless, they are still waiting for compensation, he said.

"We can see what happened to those villagers. They've become beggars," Saket explained. "We're not going to let that happen with us."

As energy-hungry India seeks to fuel its continued economic growth, millions of people are being robbed of their homes by companies building power plants on their land or mining the coal below it, activists and villagers say.

India's energy output has tripled in the last 15 years - according to CARE Ratings, a credit rating agency - making it the world's third-largest electricity market.

In Singrauli district alone, more than 1.3 million people have been displaced as the result of government deals with power companies since the 1960s, says Climate Agenda, a local nonprofit.

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Reuters, 29 Oct 2018: Villagers lose homes, land to feed India's booming power sector