MAC: Mines and Communities

Villagers oppose SMC expansion

Published by MAC on 2006-09-16

Villagers oppose SMC expansion

Pioneer News Service | Sambalpur

16th September 2006

Villagers of Hirma gram panchayat in Jharsuguda district on Tuesday opposed the proposed expansion of SMC Power Generation Limited, a sponge iron unit, during a public hearing meeting for its "anti-people attitude."

The locals alleged that heavy pollution has transformed the fertile land of the adjoining villages into barren land. Similarly, residents living in the vicinity of the factory are even deprived of safe drinking water due to presence of toxic and coal particles in water bodies like wells and ponds.

Apart from this, the villagers alleged that the company is also not paying attention to peripheral development, local employment, health and education of the project-affected people.

The sponge iron company started its production in 2004 and wants to upgrade the unit to an integrated steel plant after a green signal from the State Government.

Most villagers present at the meeting raised fingers against the company and sought that permission for its expansion be not granted, as it would become a death trap for them. The villagers of Hirma also alleged collusion between the district administration, including panchayat officials, and the company.

During the public hearing, the people heckled the vice-president of the company and alleged that the head of the Regional Pollution Control Board, Sambalpur, Surya Mishra, was not taking action against the company, despite repeated violation of the pollution norms.

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