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Jindal steel plant clears first hurdle

Jamshedpur, March 8: Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) today allayed pollution fears of local villagers for its proposed 6 MTPA greenfield steel plant project at Asanboni in Potka block of East Singhbhum, about 23km from Jamshedpur.

Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) conducted a public hearing at Asanboni. Over 300 people from eight villages, who will part with their land for the project, attended it.

East Singhbhum additional DC Ganesh Kumar presided over the hearing, which began sharp at 11am at Panchayat Bhavan grounds and continued for about an hour.

Pollution control was one of the major concerns of the villagers. “We are ready to give our land but will the company ensure us pure water and pollution-free air,” asked Arun Giri, a villager from Asanboni.

JSPL vice-president Naresh Kumar assured the villagers, “The steel plant will have latest equipment and technology. Much care will be taken for environment protection. We have decided to plant around 2 lakh saplings in and around the project area to ensure pollution-free air.”

Among other demands of the villagers were jobs for educated unemployed youths of Asanboni panchayat.

“The company should give priority to local youths as far as employment generation is concerned. For that, necessary training should be provided to us,” said Pankaj Bhagat, who had come from Dorkasai village.

Kumar replied that the project would provide direct employment to 6,000 people. “We will further offer contractual jobs to 7,500 workers,” he added.

JSPCB regional officer Choudhary later said that the public hearing went off smoothly. “The proceedings will be sent to Union government for environmental clearance,” he added.

The steel major had signed an MoU with the state government in July 2005 for establishing the steel plant. But the project was delayed due to land acquisition issues.

Of the required 1,417 acres, JSPL has so far acquired 285 acres for the Rs 22,000 crore greenfield project.

The company now plans to commission the project by 2019.