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Protest brakes on bridge link

Construction of the much-needed approach roads to a bridge over river Damodar, which is expected to shorten the 32km motorable distance between Bokaro steel city and Chandrapura township to 7km, has hit another block.

Hundreds of villagers from Vastedi and Dhanghari on Thursday halted construction from Bokaro side, demanding additional compensation for plots taken from them and an alternative site for their residential quarters.

They also resorted to violence, injuring a labourer.

Notably, the district administration has acquired 15 acres from Bokaro Steel Limited for the approach road and has already paid a total compensation of Rs 2.80 crore to it.

According to officials, the villagers, who had given their land to the steel major way back in 70s and 80s, don’t have any stake in the project area.

Yet, around 9am on Thursday, the residents assembled at the construction site on the outskirts of Sector IX and pelted stones at labourers hired by Ganesh Construction, the company that has bagged the tender to build the approach ways.

A labourer, Manoj Singh, received injuries.

Although police were summoned, the mob outnumbered them. Seeing no other option, the agency stopped work and the police also beat a hasty retreat. The villagers then marched till Sector IX police station and submitted a charter of demands addressed to governor Syed Ahmed to thana in-charge Rajesh Kumar.

OC Kumar said, “The villagers came to the police station to lodge their protest, which will be relayed by us to senior administrative officers. Work will resume on the directions of the higher-ups.”

Asked why they were disrupting development work, a protester, Rameshwar Prasad Mahto, said: “Why should we sacrifice? Our ancestral land lies with Bokaro steel plant. They are receiving hefty compensation against it. We also want a share of it. If not, the company should give us jobs.”