Recent Unrest in Andal, West Bengal: Site of Aerotropolis

April 18, 2010

Click here for booklet on the planned Aerotropolis in Andal [PDF, Bengali]

Andal, near Asansol and Durgapur, in Burdwan district is the site of another major land acquisition in West Bengal where 3500 acres of land is being acquired to set up the first airport city in India, named as the “Aeretropolis”. The Aeretropolis is a concept put forward by US urban planner John Kasarga, which envisages building up a huge urban hub, with all commercial, residential and entertainment entities centered around an airport. Interestingly, there have been very few takers of this concept in the western world, and most of the airport cities in use, or under construction, are in South East Asia or the Gulf. The West Bengal government has adopted this as a major project in its scheme of neoliberal “development”. The Aeretropolis in Andal is being built by a joint venture of the West Bengal government agency HUDCO and a number of large private real estate companies, with foreign collaboration.

The people of the area, most of whom are agriculturalists, have been opposing the project since its inception. Even though most of the land-owning farmers are resigned to losing their land, the landless workers and sharecroppers, numbering around 15000, and are going to lose their means of livelihood if the land is gone and are also uncertain to get any compensation, have been in the forefront of the agitation against the project under the aegis of the Khetmajur Bargadar Sangram Samiti. Their anger at the proposed project erupted in the form of a major unrest on 24th March 2010 which was suppressed by brutal police action. Following is a news report that describes the incidents of that day. Protests are still continuing and might erupt into a major incident any day.

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Aetropolis generates unrest in Andal

A Report by Syagnik Bandopadhyay, Icore Ekdin, 25th March 2010. Translated by Pinaki Chaudhuri, Sanhati

On Wednesday (March24 2010), on issues regarding the proposed Aetropolis, there was widespread unrest in Andal. Demanding the due compensations for the land acquired for the airport city, angry agricultural labourers and sharecroppers demolished the temporary camps of the project. The police has arrested 16 persons for being involved in the incident.

The day began with agricultural labourers and sharecroppers from the village of Amloka demonstrating in front of the project camps, demanding compensation for their lands. They also demanded that staff of the project should immediately stop their work. Their demand was that the compensations were supposed to have been paid by 15th March 2010. But nothing had happened – the administration was sitting silently. The protest eventually turned violent with the people starting to vandalize the camps and setting them on fire. Police from three different police stations reached the spot, along with Rapid Action Force personnel. The adminstrative officers also arrived.

Soon after, the entire area became a battleground. The police started lathicharging the demonstrators in order to disperse them. Subsequently, the polics started entering villages, searching and arresting people. Reports claim that even the women were not spared. As the day progressed, all the menfolk fled the villages. Only the noise of the heavy boots of the police could be heard. One of the villagewomen, Anima Bagchi, lamented, “My husband has done nothing. He is in no way involved with the movement. Still the police did not listen to him. They forcefully took him away.” After he visited the area, one of the leaders of Trinamul Congress, Sujit Mukherjee said,”For a long time, around 400 sharecroppers and agricultural workers of Amloka mouza have been demanding for the compensation that was owed to them for the acquired land.

Last Wednesday, the administration assured them that comensation would be paid soon. But nothing has happened.” He also added,”When these people agitate, police start lathicharging. They enter villages and illegaly arrest innocent people. The women have also not escaped from the lathicharge. Even students who were slated to appear for Higher Secondary Exams have been picked up by the police.”

But the police has waved off all the complaints as baseless. The Durgapur SDPO, Joy Biswas, remarked,”They only indulged in arson and vandalism. The police arrested the guilty. The claims of lathicharge that are being made are simply not true.” The Officer in Charge of Andal Police Thana, Sankhya Biswas added that the policr will continue to search for the offenders. The District Magistrate of Durgapur claimed,”Several rounds of discussions on the demands of the sharecroppers and agricultural workers have already taken place. Those of who have been identified as affected people, will certainly get their compenstations. The temporary camps of the Aetropolis project have been set on fire. We will punish the guilty.”

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Original news in Bengali:

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3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Recent Unrest in Andal, West Bengal: Site of Aerotropolis”

  1. debaki prasanna ghosh Says:
    September 22nd, 2010 at 12:23

    please send me latest infomations about the entire project time to time.

  2. ranjit victor Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 08:06

    please start the work …its really a great difficulty for all the people who stay abroad..we want to reach our home fast and safe…

  3. Ahtesham Says:
    October 17th, 2011 at 11:22

    Industrialise the township of Andal but leave it pollution free.

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