MAC: Mines and Communities

Fear of fresh stir in steel hub

Published by MAC on 2007-04-11

Fear of fresh stir in steel hub

Times News Network

11th April 2007

Jajpur: The tribals in Kalinga Nagar might have softened their stand and lifted the year-long road blockade. But, the anti-industrial movement in the steel hub continues to haunt the district administration and industrialists.

The fresh fear of conflict surfaced on Monday when thousands of farmers from Danagadi, Korei, Sukinda and Dharamsala blocks threatened to stage an agitation against the proposed ash pond of Jindal Stainless ltd. at Sukindapata on the outskirts of the industrial complex area. At a meeting organized by the Sukindapata Chasi Samiti near Jakhapura Hingula emple, the farmers decided to launch an agitation on the lines of Kalinga Nagar.

"We will fight against the proposed ash pond as it will be a major threat both for our lives and the future generation. We will not give company any land. We are ready to face the company," Gopinath Biswal, a farmer said.

According to sources, Sukindapata, a land for multi-cropping, is spread over an area of 6,500 acres. Jindal Stainless Ltd. reportedly wants to acquire 5,000 acres for its ash pond project.

According to sources, nearly five lakh people in about 100 villages on both both sides of the Brahmani, the Kharasrota and the Ganda Nala rivers will be adversely affected if the ash pond comes up. These people use water of the the three rivers.

"The water of the three rivers will become poluuted as the proposed pond's discharge will flow into them. It will actually turn into a pond of poison for lakhs of people in the four blocks of Jajpur," claimed Sarat Samal, a local resident.

CPM [Communist Party of India Marxist] leader Mayadhar Nayak criticized the district administration for allowing the company to dig up an ash pond in the Sukindapta area "in violation of the central and state govt guidelines".

"If the pond is dug up, thousands of people will lose their livelihood. Besides, around 5,000 traditional fishermen, who are depending on the rivers for years together, will lose their livelihood," Nayak warned.

Arabinda Ku Padhee, the outgoing collector of Jajpur, said, "the land that the company wants for its ash pond belongs to the govt. However, some local people, who said it was not recorded in their names during the period of settlement, are now claiming rights over the land. Sukinda tehsildar Kulamani Pati is conducting inquiry into the matter."

Anand Kishnan, the public relations officer of Jindal Stainless Ltd, said the environmental aspects would be looked into before digging up proposed ash pond.

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