Three decades-long agitation against Artillery range comes to an end
Ranchi, August 17: Struggle of tribals against three-decade old Netarhat firing range came to an end with Chief Minister Hemant Soren giving approval to the proposal of not going for re-notification of extension of Netarhat Field Firing Range.
Significantly, the Netarhat Field Firing Range, started in 1964, and was extended by the then Bihar government in 1999. Keeping in view the public interest, the Chief Minister has agreed to the proposal not to re-notify the Netarhat Field Firing Range.
In protest against the Netarhat Field Firing Range, a memorandum was also submitted by about 39 revenue villages of Latehar district to the Governor, Government of Jharkhand through the general meeting, in which it was told by the public affected by the Netarhat Field Firing Range that Latehar and Gumla district comes under Fifth Schedule where PESA Act 1996 is applicable, under which the Gram Sabha has constitutional rights.
Under this, the village heads of the affected area of the Netarhat Field Firing Range organized a Gram Sabha on the demand of the affected public and decided not to make the land inside the village limits available for the Netarhat Field Firing Range for the army’s firing exercise. . At the same time, the notification of Netarhat Field Firing Range was not extended further and requested to cancel the project by duly publishing the notification.
The people affected by the Netarhat Field Firing Range were continuously protesting for the last 30 years to cancel the notification of the Netarhat Field Firing Range. Like every year, a protest was held on 22-23 March this year too against the Netarhat Field Firing Range.
Noted rights activists and economist Jean Drèze and many other social and tribal workers activists attended the programme organised under Jan Sangharsh Samiti (JSS), which piloted the peaceful mass movement against this project in 1994.
Since then said thousands of residents have been tirelessly fighting to press for cancellation of Netarhat Firing range project.
“Through satyagraha movement, we have also ensured no firing activities by Army as part of its annual practice in this range,” said Jerome Kujur of JSS, adding that in 1994 erstwhile Bihar government during undivided Jharkhand notified this firing range for Army till 2022.
As per the communiqué issued by JSS, Netarhat field firing range was notified for Army by government under the section 9 of Maneuvers Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act 1938, allowing it to conduct its annual artillery shelling and firing practice here. Netarhat firing range was among the four such pilot ranges which was established in the country.