Popular Opposition

Published: Monday 28 February 2005

To Jindal Steel's expansion plan
Nearly 2,000 written complaints and a protest document signed by 40,000 people were submitted at a public hearing against the expansion plan of Jindal Steel and Power Plant in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh. Tension prevailed during the entire course of the public hearing, held on January 29, 2005. The project is facing widespread opposition because the area's residents rely mostly on agriculture and forestry for their livelihood and do not want to be displaced. Jindal Steel wants nearly 57.9 hectares land vacated. People are also opposing the industry because of the already existing industrial pollution problem. Nearly 10,000 people participated in the public hearing, which had been postponed twice earlier.

The public hearing on January 4, 2005, was postponed for January 18, 2005, because the administration was not ready for the massive turnout of people. There were many angry exchanges between villagers and some youth supporting the industry. The situation turned volatile at the January 29 meeting too, when people tried to attack government officials. The meeting was held amid strict security arrangements. But local leaders alleged this was to discourage people from participation. They also pointed out that the administration had neither issued a notification nor publicised the event properly. Villagers had brought samples of vegetables grown in the region that had been affected by pollution.

The district lawyers association also alleged that the company had submitted 2,470 dubious applications in its support to the environmental department through the backdoor.

-- alok prakash putul Raigarh>

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