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Villagers release CESC officials

Dumka, Aug. 31: Six employees of a power company, who had been kept hostage by the residents of Dudhia and a clutch of adjoining villages of Kathikund for the past couple of days, were released last night.

Bablu Raut, Jitendra Choudhary, Manik Jaisawal, Shiva Sanvani and Mahesh Daharwal (all residents of Maharastra) and Tohit Ansari of local village Astajora were sent by Calcutta-based CESC Limited, an RPG group company, on Wednesday to undertaking drilling for excavating coal near Dudhia for the proposed 1,000MW power plant at adjoining Ramgarh block. But hundreds of villagers stalled the work and held them captive for not taking informing them before starting drilling .

A gram sabha, presided over by village head Chhotu Murmu, was convened at Amtalla yesterday, in which it was decided that the hostages would not be released till the top officials of the power company turned up for negotiations. It was only after Dumka SP Hemant Toppo intervened yesterday and Kathikund police station was alerted that the employees were released.

However, a displeased Toppo said: ďHow can the company start drilling work at the site without procuring the approval of the respective gram sabha as the area falls under fifth schedule?Ē

Notably, the shadow of the 2008 Kathikund firing, in which two tribals protesting against CESCís proposed power plant fell prey to police bullets. looms large on the present crisis. Although the CESC management shifted the site of the power plant from Kathikund to Ramgarh, the coal is to be supplied by the same Mahua Garhi block that falls under Kathikund.

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