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Sao turns to Gandhigiri

Hazaribagh, Feb. 11: “Slap fame” legislator Yogendra Sao today adopted Gandhigiri to stop a foundation stone laying ceremony for a control room of a proposed NTPC substation in Barkagaon, demanding higher compensation and jobs for displaced villagers.

Leading a mob of around 500, Sao, who was jailed last year for publicly slapping NTPC deputy general manager R.K. Singh and Barkagaon BDO Rajballabh Singh, stood guard at the venue with marigold garlands in hand.

As NTPC director (finance) A.K. Singhal reached the site at Pankri Barwadih around 11.30am, Sao and his legion of protesters blocked the way saying they would not allow him to do the honours.

Sao garlanded Singhal and said he was taking up Gandhigiri to make officials listen to him and the villagers, forcing the director to give up the idea of laying the foundation stone to set up the control room.

NTPC is setting up three captive coal mines — two in Barkagaon, namely Pankri Barwadih and Chatti Bariattu, and one in Keredari.

Dumar Sao, a villager, said that NTPC was not paying adequate compensation to the raiyats (owners) in exchange of acquired land.

The protesters said they were getting Rs 10 lakh per acre, which was not enough. Singhal replied that he would ensure compensation of Rs 11 lakh per acre but the villagers sought more as well as government jobs.

The NTPC director promised to take up the matter with his higher-ups even as the protesters demanded withdrawal of cases slapped against villagers by the corporation.

Sao behaved politely with NTPC officials, especially Singhal, and later told villagers that the DC and SP would also have to look into their pleas.

But he had a word of caution for NTPC officials. “If you behave roughly, I will giveup Gandhigiri.”

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