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Eviction fears spur Sindri stir

Residents of Sindri have gathered under the banner of a citizens’ forum to launch a signature campaign against Fertiliser Corporation of India (FCI)’s move to serve case registration notices to allegedly unauthorised occupants of company quarters.

The campaign, which started at Domgarh on Tuesday, reached Rodha Bandh and Saharpura on Wednesday.

Convener of the forum Shailendra Dwivedi said the week-long campaign would cover the whole Sindri township. “Next month, we will send a memorandum along with the signatures to Union minister of state for chemical and fertiliser Srikant Kumar Jena and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” said Dwivedi.

He added that they had already obtained over 300 signatures during the first two days of the campaign.

Dwivedi said the case registration notice could be a prologue to an eviction move. He added that FCI might want to vacate the area to construct three new plants.

“We would like the central government to make public details of its plan to set up three new industries including a 1.5MT fertiliser plant, 1000MW power plant and 5.6MT steel plant,” he said.

He demanded that residents should know where the plants would be established before eviction is carried out.

“We are not against development, but people should not be vacated from their homes without alternative arrangement,” said Dwivedi, adding that most residents of the township were living there for over 50 years. “What is the logic of serving notices to widows of former FCI employees or those whose applications for acquiring lease is pending before the management.”

FCI officials said they had served case notices under Public Premises Act, 1971, to those living in the quarters in an unauthorised manner.

Notably, out of 6,700 quarters, 1,200 had been allotted to former FCI staff, 700 to employees of banks, post office, schools etc., while around 3,000 quarters are in illegal occupation. The remaining quarters are dilapidated and uninhabitable.

“An estate court had been constituted by central government during February 2013 to vacate quarters unlawfully occupied. People with vested interests, who are themselves involved in acquiring quarters in an unauthorised manner, are conducting the campaign,” said a senior FCI official, requesting anonymity.