Nagaon: FFC Terms Setting Up Solar Power Plant at Mikir Bamuni as Illegal

Nagaon: FFC Terms Setting Up Solar Power Plant at Mikir Bamuni as Illegal
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A Delhi Solidarity Group has constituted an All India Fact-Finding Committee to monitor the setting up a 15 MW solar power plant forcefully at Mikir Bamuni Grant Village of Samaguri Revenue Circle, Nagaon. The indigenous people and the farmers have been protesting against setting up the power plant unofficially.

As no local elected representative of district officials was responding to their grievances, an appeal was issued by the local communities for help. In response, an All-India Fact-Finding Committee (FFC) was constituted by Delhi Solidarity Group with Prafulla Samantara (recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, also known as Green Nobel Prize) from Odisha, Leo Saldanha (Environment Support Group, Bangalore) and Bhargavi Rao (Environment Support Group, Bangalore and Center for Financial Accountability, New Delhi) and Amit Kumar (Delhi Solidarity Group) who were part of this FFC and visited Mikir Bamuni to meet with local impacted communities, and also went to Nagaon to meet with district, police and revenue officials during 27 to 29 January 2021. Based on this visit, gathering of evidence and extensive research of the region, the Committee has issued: "The Anatomy of a Solar Land Grab – Report of a Fact-Finding Committee relating to Human Rights Violations, and Environmental & Social Impacts of 15 MW Solar Power Plant being established by Azure Power at Mikir Bamuni Grant Village, Nagaon, Assam" and the same was released in the presence of local villagers and leaders of the ongoing movement against the land grab.

The report establishes that Azure Power was assisted by district authorities, revenue officials and police in forcibly taking over land that was being cultivated by the villagers, and in abject violation of judicial orders, and also laws and policies. The construction of the solar part was undertaken with blatant abuse of police power, employed to terrorize local people into submission, and this including a variety of serious human rights abuses. Despite widespread media coverage in local dailies, no action has been initiated against the guilty officials by the State Government. Shockingly, the high office of His Excellency the Governor of Assam has been found to be involved in authorizing the illegal transfer of land to Azure.

The report further establishes that the solar power plant is being constructed on fertile agricultural land that has been cultivated for decades, and was full of standing crops, and which was illegally destroyed by Azure. The local agricultural officials have illegally and fraudulently made a case that there was no cultivation for over a decade, to justify the illegal transfer of land to Azure.

The FFC also discovered during 2 of its 3-day visit to Mikir Bamuni that the passage through which elephants crossed through the village was blocked by the solar plant, and thus this constitutes an active elephant corridor and ecologically sensitive region.

FFC member and senior leader of National Alliance of People's Movements, Prafulla Samantara pointed out that the "Assam Government, especially the district administration of Nagaon, has played a crucial role in this corporate capture of resources dispossessing indigenous and adivasi people of Mikir Bamuni from their 2 lands and livelihoods. Actions of police officials to assist this forcible takeover of land by Azure Power have resulted in blatant violation of human rights of those cultivating the land. The Assam government has served the interest of Azure Power at the cost of human rights, livelihood, and fundamental rights of villagers".

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