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Panem protest gathers steam

Dumka, Nov. 18: Former chief minister Babulal Marandi and former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi stayed firm on the “indefinite strike” against Panem Coal Mines Limited on Day Three today.

Informing newsmen today, both said their agitation would continue if Panem management bosses and high-level government officials did not implement provisions of the MoU signed in year 2006 related to job offers for land-losers within a specific deadline.

The MoU stipulated employment for displaced villagers but that never materialised.

Though thousands of villagers joined the protest and the ceasework effectively grounded coal transport from Amrapara unit, neither the state nor Panem have responded to it or to mounting allegations.

Stephen today charged Panem with expanding its project. “It is surprising that Panem initiated expansion in the north block measuring 1,200 acres without procedures,” he said. “Panem had committed before Supreme Court to abide by MoU provisions, including rehab. But its high-handedness is evident. It did not implement existing MoU stipulations and expanded its project without signing a new one.”

The district administration, meanwhile, is losing sleep over Babulal’s security as he is apparently on Naxalite hit list and the area around Panem coalmines a rebel stronghold. “We tried to tell them (Babulal and Stephen) about the threat perception in vain,” Pakur DC Sunil Kumar Singh said.