The FCI main hospital in Sindri, Dhanbad, that ceased to function after the fertiliser unit was shut down. Picture by Gautam Dey
Residents of Sindri expect the next Prime Minister to accelerate the process for establishment of steel, fertiliser and power plants in their township, besides providing all kinds of civic amenities to over 2,200 retired employees of the closed Fertiliser Corporation of India (FCI) unit.
Once a teeming city equipped with all facilities like hospitals, schools and parks, things took a turn for the worst when the FCI unit was shut down in 2002.
Today, Sindri is a sad replica of what it was. And the 25,000 voters of Sindri in Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency can’t be blamed if they are hoping that the new Prime Minister will bail them out.
The township on 5,500 acres, with over 6,700 FCI quarters, is now deprived of a hospital and residents have no other option than travelling over 30km to Dhanbad to address a medical emergency. Lack of transport during the night further aggravates the situation.
“When I came to Sindri in 1964 after my marriage, such was the lighting arrangement in the town that one could even find a needle if it fell on the road at night,” said Janki Mishra (74), a retired teacher of Rajendra Girls’ Middle School in Sindri.
She further recalled how they used to get uninterrupted water supply in five spells of two hours each from 6am, 9am, 12 noon, 5pm and 9pm.
Regarding medical facilities, Mishra, who served in the FCI-run school from 1969 to 2002, said: “In addition to the 205-bed main hospital, there were over a dozen dispensaries in all the localities of the township. An ambulance was just a call away for all employees.”
A former doctor of FCI Main Hospital G.C. Saha added that around 200 patients used to visit the heal hub daily.
According to Mishra, they now hardly get 30 minutes of water supply. FCI’s action of renewing the lease of the quarters every year further puts a question mark on the residents’ survival. Eviction notices have been served to several former employees.
Like her, all the retired FCI employees are now pinning hopes on the new Prime Minister — to be elected in this Lok Sabha elections — to give Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) all necessary clearance for its proposed plan to revive the Sindri unit.
SAIL is expected to invest around Rs 35,000 crore to set up a 5.6 million tonne steel plant, a 1,000 MW power plant and a 1.15 million tonne urea plant in a joint venture with National Fertilisers Limited to give the industrial township a much-needed fresh lease of life.
Sindri Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Deepak Kumar Dipu said that they would like the next government to develop Sindri on the lines of Bokaro steel city.
“We will demand land for former employees on lease at concessional rates for a housing society and also ask SAIL authorities to allow businessmen to start ground-floor shops at residential quarters as is the case in Bokaro,” he added.