Chatterjee in Durgapur on Monday. Picture by Arup Sarkar
Durgapur, Aug. 12: Industries minister Partha Chatterjee today “cautioned” Trinamul leaders against disrupting industrial work.
He also asked Essar Oil to look into villagers’ allegations that effluents discharged during extraction of coal-bed methane (CBM) were contaminating ponds and agricultural land in Burdwan’s Kanksa.
Chatterjee, who held a meeting with Essar officials in Durgapur a day after villagers led by Trinamul leaders stopped CBM extraction in eight pits in Kanksa, said: I have come here on the instructions of the chief minister. She is trying hard to bring industry to Bengal and create an industry-friendly ambiance. I have cautioned our party leaders against instigating villagers to stop industrial work, including that of Essar.”
The comments came at a time the government is upbeat about industry in the wake of the chief minister’s “successful” meeting with top businessmen, including Mukesh Ambani, in Mumbai.
Chatterjee said Essar “would have to pay compensation according to law” if effluents discharged while extracting CBM were indeed polluting ponds and agricultural land.
“At the same time, the villagers will have to give up the practice of stopping work at CBM pits,” he said.
“I have told the Essar officials and our local leaders who have taken up the villagers’ cause that there should be harmony. Our chief minister has made it clear that she will not allow any kind of disruption of industrial work,” Chatterjee added.
Yesterday, villagers led by Trinamul peasant’s cell block president Ajijul Middya had stopped work at the CBM pits in Kanksa. The villagers had demanded jobs as compensation. Work at the pits resumed today.
According to Trinamul sources, Middya was “called separately and scolded” by Chatterjee and “advised to concentrate on his teaching profession”. Middya is a primary school teacher.
Essar project director (exploration and production division) Apoorva Ranjan said the company was happy with the outcome of the meeting. “We are happy with the advice the industries minister has given us.”
Chatterjee held a meeting with Trinamul leaders and government officials in Bolpur earlier today to discuss the possibility of setting up industries on a 300-acre plot that was acquired in 2001 by the Left Front government.
“We have allotted land (from the 300 acres) to some IT-related companies. Plots will also be given to the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited and the panchayat and rural development and tourism departments. We have got a proposal for a food-processing unit. We are thinking about allotting land to it,” the minister said.