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JVM ire over stalled project

More than 500 JVM activists on Tuesday laid siege to the office of Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) in Bistupur in support of their demands.

The blockade, which continued for an hour from 11.15am, stopped people from going into the TSRDS office or leave the premises as both gates were blocked by activists who were protesting against TSRDS going back on its promise to install solar lights, allegedly under pressure from Arjun Munda.

The blockade was lifted after a delegation submitted a four-point charter of demands to Tata Steel’s chief of corporate sustainability services Biren Bhuta and sought a written reply in a fortnight.

The party leaders warned that if they did not receive a reply within the deadline, they would resort to a 24-hour blockade of TSRDS and launch a series of protests.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Jamshedpur MP Ajoy Kumar said this was a symbolic demonstration in support of demands of the people and if the concerned authorities failed to give a reply, they would be forced to launch a massive agitation.

“We want that TSRDS should honour its commitment on installation of solar lights in rural areas. They had started the work in September last year but all of a sudden work stalled without any reason in October. We have come to know that Arjun Munda had asked the solar light project to be stopped as he was apprehensive that it would add to our popularity. Several letters to Munda have not evinced any response. He failed to give a satisfactory reply during my phone call on October 4,” said Kumar.

The project, estimated to cost Rs 9.2 crore, was to be implemented over two years with the MP contributing Rs 1.2 crore and Tata Steel contributing Rs 3 crore. The remaining cost was to be borne by Tata Trust.

The plan was to install solar lights in all 1,600 villages of East Singhbhum and also in the outskirts of Jamshedpur. Two solar-powered CFL streetlights were to be installed at a central location in each village with Tata BP Solar as technology partner.

Solar lights had been installed in nearly 300 villages when the work was grounded. The MP has started installing lights from his own MP fund in different villages from December last year.

The other demands of JVM to TSRDS included setting up of 100 deep boring facilities for potable water in urban slums in the city, 100 hand pumps in rural area and renovation of 200 ponds.