MAC: Mines and Communities

Farmers Resist Ash Pond

Published by MAC on 2006-03-13
Source: Statesman News Service

Farmers resist ash pond

by Statesman News Service, JAJPUR

13th March 2006

The spectre of agitation continues to haunt industrialists in Kalinga Nagar and its surrounding areas. Added to the ongoing tribal movement since 2 January, another movement by farmers was launched today.

Farmers of seven villages under Danagadi block and the Vyasanagar Municipality are up in arms against the proposed location of an ash pond of one of the steel majors in the Kalinga Nagar complex.

Residents of Kimbhirigadia, Jakhapura, Khapuriapada, Rachhipur, Mantira, Jodabara and Marthapur met at Marthapur village under the leadership Mr B Rout, Mr Gopinath Biswal, Mr Sarat Samal and others to challenge the district administration in issuing notices for land acquisition. "How can they do this when most of the people have raised objections at the public hearing held last September," they said. The meeting also expressed grave concern over how the ash pond would create health hazards to the residents of the villages after its completion.

They wondered who had empowered the government to divest farmers from their ancestral property and destroy the agriculture base of the area. "The farmers will neither receive the notice issued by the Sukinda Tahasildar, nor will they spare even an inch of land for the proposed ash pond and captive power plant of the private steel major," Gopinath Biswal, the leading farmer of Marthapur village said.

"If the district administration forcefully takes the arable land from the farmers of the seven villages, it will be a repeat the Kalinga Nagar incident," the farmers warned.

The farmers are apprehensive that once the ash pond is constructed it will not only cause inconvenience to them, both in terms of land and drinking water supply, but will also pollute the Brahmani and Kharasrota rivers. During a public hearing organised by the Orissa Pollution Control Board at Vysasnagar last year, most of the farmers who were present in the camp meeting opposed the proposed ash pond and captive power plant at Sukinda Pata region.

Mr B Rout, one of the agitating leaders regretted that neither the state government nor the steel company was helping the farmers. "We are determined to protect our livelihood," Mr Rout said.

When contacted the district collector, Mr Aurobindo Padhee however asserted that the steel company will have to abide by the rules framed by the government as well as the Pollution Control Board while constructing both the ash pond and the captive power plant.

Human habitations, life and property would be protected at any cost, he added.

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