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Land heat on Matix official

Durgapur, Jan. 29: Over 500 villagers, most of them Trinamul supporters, who had given land for a Rs 5,000-crore fertiliser plant in Burdwan’s Panagarh demonstrated outside the proposed factory near Durgapur yesterday and detained the plant vice-president for over an hour demanding jobs.

The protesters, who gave 480 acres for the fertiliser plant of the Mumbai-based Matix Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd during the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regime, also demanded that vehicles carrying raw materials and company executives would have to be hired from their syndicates.

“We used to cultivate the land but the Left government took away our plots. We were promised jobs at the plant besides cash compensation. But we have not been given any jobs,” said Kishan Karmakar, one of the agitators.

“We are Trinamul supporters and were hopeful of getting jobs after the change in the government. We have purchased cars and trucks with the compensation money and have formed a syndicate. We have urged the plant authorities to hire vehicles from us. But the management refused,” he added.

Plant vice-president Subalak Sarkar was on his way to the construction site in a white Mahindra Xylo around 10am yesterday when his car was stopped by the agitators.

Sarkar had to stay put in his car till a team from Budbud police station, about 10km away, rescued him.

Today, the officer in charge of Budbud police station, Piyush Layek, was transferred this evening. Burdwan police chief S.M.H. Meerza said: “He is a senior officer and he is required at Madhabdihi police station (elsewhere in Burdwan) before the panchayat polls.”

Sarkar refused comment but a senior factory executive said the company had been hiring cars and other vehicles at a cheaper rate from agencies outside the locality.

“But the villagers are putting pressure on us to take vehicles from them at higher prices,” the executive said.

The villagers held discussions with company officials after the agitation.

“The matter has been solved now. The company officials have agreed to hire cars from us,” Karmakar claimed.

A senior executive said villagers had been disrupting work since construction began in 2010. “It is disgusting,” the officer said.

Yesterday, executives of Essar Oil, which will supply coal bed methane to the proposed fertiliser plant, were detained by landlosers protesting delay in paying compensation.

The villagers, who gave up land for a village road, raised the compensation demand when Essar started using it.

The company has sought the names of land-givers from the government but is yet to receive it.

An Essar delegation met industries minister Partha Chatterjee, chief secretary Sanjay Mitra and home secretary Basudeb Banerjee at Writers’ Buildings this afternoon.

“We did have an incident where our people were stopped from going to the work site…. Nobody was held hostage, it wasn’t a big deal,” project director Apoorva Ranjan said after the meetings.

Chatterjee also dubbed the incident minor. “There was no hostage situation. It was a minor incident,” he said.