Birhor Tribals Unnatural Deaths In Jharkhand- Was Pressure On NTPC and Its MDO Rithwik-AMR To Expedite Coal Mining Responsible ?

Why did Rithwik Projects Private Limited donate Rs. 30 crore to Congress Party via electoral bonds ?

Was NTPC and its MDO Rithwik-AMR were under tremedous pressure to meet timelines given by Coal Ministry that the MDO did not bother to relocate the Birhor Tribals to a safer place and started coal evacuation ? There are many unanswered questions related to the unnatural deaths of two Birhor Tribals residing around the Chatti Bariatu mines of NTPC in Jharkhand.

NTPC Limited had given a Bank Guarantee of Rs. 138,60,00,000/- (Rs. One hundred thirty eight crores and sixty thousand) issued from Punjab National Bank (PNB) in respect of Chatti Bariatu & Chatti Bariatu South coal mine for which M/s. Rithwik-AMR Consortium was selected as MDO. raised some pertinent questions to the top brass of NTPC Limited but as usual, the Maharatna PSU chose not to reply. Emails to Secretary Power and Secretary Caol also remained unanswered.

a) The Ministry of Coal, on 17/01/2023 issued a show cause notice to NTPC Limited saying “Appropriation for an amount of ₹ 33,26,40,000/- (Thirty-three Crores Twenty-Six Lac Forty Thousand) of Bank Guarantee No. 173131BG1001025 dated 28.04.2015 in terms of Clause 6.2.1 (d) read with Clause 10.3 of Allotment Agreement dated 30.03.2015 and amendments thereof in respect of Chatti Bariatu & Chatti Bariatu South coal mine”.

It further said “Please refer to the Allotment Agreement dated 30.03.2015 and amendments signed between the Nominated Authority and M/s National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) in respect of Chatti Bariatu & Chatti Bariatu South coal mine. As per Clause 10.1 of the Allotment Agreement, “The conduct of mining operations at the Coal Mine shall be subject to the milestones listed in SCHEDULE E (the “Efficiency Parameters”).”

  1. M/s NTPC has been issued Show Cause Notice (SCN) dated 26.05.2022 for the deviation from timelines of milestone specified in Sch. ‘E’ of the Allotment Agreement i.e. “Efficiency Parameters” in respect of Chatti Bariatu & Chatti Bariatu South coal mine.

b) On 07/10/2022, Mr. Partha Mazumder, Regional Executive Director, Coal Mining, NTPC Limited, sent a letter to the Coal Ministry, stating that the Performance Security of the Bank Guarantee had been extended to 27/04/2024.

c) Was it the eagerness of the NTPC to get the work started in haste and hurry by its MDO M/s. Rithwik-AMR Consortium, in Chatti Baraitu, to show progress to the Coal Ministry that NTPC and its MDO were on track with the excavation of coal ?

d) Was this the reason that MDO M/s. Rithwik-AMR Consortium started excavation of coal from the area in such a hurry that they indeed neglected the shifting of houses/hutments of the most critically endangered Birhor Tribes, whose population there is about 250 persons, including 40 children.

e) Who does the NTPC Limited hold responsible for the deaths of two tribals of Birhor community and what action has been taken by the Maharatna PSU in this regard ?

f) What is the criteria of compensation in such cases of unnatural deaths laid down by NTPC Limited and if there is a a ctiteria, what is it and has it been followed ?

f) The Union Tribal Ministry has also written to Jharkhand Chief Secretary, about this incident. Has NTPC Limited got any correspondence on this from the Jharkhand Government and if yes, what has NTPC Limited said in its reply to the Government of Jharkhand / Union Tribal Ministry ?

g) NTPC Limited had earlier, given the mine development and operation (MDO) contracts awarded to BGR Mining & Infra Limited for the Chatti-Bariatu coal mine in Jharkhand for Rs. 6200 crores which was cancelled and the same was given to M/s Rithwik-AMR Consortium but for Rs. 6800 crore which is Rs. 600 crore higher than the earlier contract causing loss to the national exchequer.

These questions were initially raised by social activist and whistle blower Mr. Mantu Soni.

Birhors : ‘Most Critically Endangered’ ethnic group according to UNESCO

Counted among the ‘Most Critically Endangered’ ethnic group among the eight ‘primitive tribes’ of Jharkhand, Birhors constitute only about 0.01 percent of the total tribal population of India and their main concentration is in Jharkhand. According to UNESCO, the Birhor tribe in Jharkhand is “critically endangered” with only 2,000 speakers remaining. The Birhor are one of the smallest primitive tribes of Jharkhand, and according to the 2011 census, there are only around 5,000 Birhor people in the state. Birhor is also listed by UNESCO as an endangered language.

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