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IISCO deal to relocate deity

Calcutta, May 22: The impasse over the expansion and modernisation of the SAIL’s IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur appears to have been resolved with the company tacitly agreeing to give jobs to a set of aggrieved land-losers.

The commissioning of the Rs 17,000-crore project — the biggest expansion initiative in Bengal — had been delayed for months as agitators had refused to relocate a deity (Jhorabudi) from the site as SAIL was not accepting their demand for jobs.

The Telegraph had reported on November 13 how the sliver of a plot, measuring 0.0069 acre, had been holding up the project that was flagged off by the Prime Minister in 2006.

The IISCO Steel Plant chief executive officer N.K. Jha today met industries minister Partha Chatterjee and expressed readiness to train 200-odd people for the next two years. The Maharatna public sector unit also agreed to give a monthly stipend during that period.

“The problem will be sorted out by this weekend. The deity will be relocated to an adjacent area. The SAIL people requested me to flag off one of their facilities. I have told them that I would visit once this issue is resolved,” Chatterjee said.

Sources said the district administration had prepared a list of around 200 people who would be trained by SAIL at an ITI.

The CEO also sounded confident. “We are ready to light up the coke oven and sinter plant (two key units in any integrated steel plant). The IISCO plant will be fully commissioned by March next year,” Jha said.

Company sources said SAIL was unwilling to officially make a commitment on jobs. Officials cited a Supreme Court ruling of 2007 that had struck down such offers. The apex court made a distinction between “land loser” and “displaced” with the later meaning those who lost homestead land.

“We will probably take these 200-odd people but the company could not say that in writing. In that case, somebody will go to court and the entire effort will be wasted,” the official added.

The local Trinamul Congress leadership, which was spearheading the agitation, seemed amenable to this formula. “The state government has stood by us. We have faith in it,” Trinamul councillor Pavitra Majhi said this evening, adding that the deity would be moved out later this week.