MAC: Mines and Communities

Visitors Back With Hope

Published by MAC on 2005-11-26
Source: The Telegraph

Visitors back with hope

Amit Gupta

The Telegraph, Calcutta Jamshedpur

26th November 2005

Naveen Jindal should be happy. His plan of assuring the jittery villagers of Asanboni that they would not get a raw deal, if his plant finally comes up at the place where their village now stands, seems to have worked.

The group of 35 people who were taken to visit the Jindal Steel and Power Limited’s (JSPL) Raigarh plant in Chhattisgarh returned, this afternoon, satisfied.

The idea had been to allow these villagers to see for themselves how the displaced people there were rehabilitated. This way, the company hoped to cut down the resistance they were facing at Asanboni where a five-million-tonne steel unit and a captive power plant is supposed to be established. Describing their visit, the villagers said the JSPL had offered the people in Raigarh “the best in terms of rehabilitation that included housing and jobs, depending on education qualifications and other criterion”.

Ashu Das, a resident of Veergaon under Asanboni panchayat, said the company had provided facilities like housing, schools, electricity, parks and jobs to the villagers there. “We are ready to give our land to the company provided it announces a proper rehabilitation packages here. As of now, we do not have even civic amenities. Out of the 16 villages that the company intends to acquire only two to three villages are supplied power and yet the villages are hardly 15 km from Jamshedpur,” he pointed out.

Tapan Aggrawal, whose family has been at Asanboni for the past two generations, said the areas where the Jindals have set up their steel and power plant in Raigarh had registered marked development. “We have reasons to hope that things will be okay.”

The villagers also admitted they were extended “excellent” hospitality. While an air-conditioned coach was hired for the group, from Calcutta, a four-wheeler was provided to them for the local trip at Raigarh. The visitors were accommodated at the company’s guest house and treated to “good food”. The group had yielded to go after much persuasion as the original group that was supposed to undertake the visit had split into two. The accusation was that the company was interested in taking only those people who were either landless or had very little to lose in the process.

“The first trip to Raigarh seems to have been fruitful. Now, more villagers are showing interest in visiting our plant. We are arranging for a second trip,” said senior general manager of the company Abhijit Ghosh.

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