People living in Bara and surrounding areas on Thursday okayed Tata Steel’s cold rolling mill expansion plans, but lobbed some riders.
During a public hearing organised by the state pollution control board at the plant’s Bara project site in Sidhgora, residents supported the expansion but demanded basic amenities such as roads, water, power and schools in the area.
According to the rule of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, a public hearing is mandatory to seek residents’ opinion before allowing any project to start.
Thursday’s hearing was organised because the plant, commissioned in 2011, plans to expand its production capacity nearly three-fold from 0.3MTPA to 0.8MTPA.
Around 300 people from Babudih, Bhuiyandih, Bagunnagar, Bagunhatu and Baridih took part in the two-hour long public hearing that began around 11am.
Residents presented before the company authorities a number of demands, including drinking water, wide roads, a proper drainage system and schools for children.
They asked the company to stop effluent seepage to the Subernarekha.
“We are not against expansion of the plant but the company should ensure it provides us basic amenities like it has been doing in localities under its command area in the city,” said Anand Bihari Dubey, a Congress leader from Bagunhatu.
He added two-three old ponds were plugged with soil when the plant was set up. “Eventually, underground water level in the area went down. So, the company should take the onus of supplying drinking water here,” he added.
Navin Kumar, a resident of Bhuiyandih, said effluents from the plant contaminated Subernarekha.
“The river water makes people develop skin diseases often. Effluents should be treated before discharging into the river,” said Kumar.
Trade union leader (Intuc affiliated) from Sidhgora, Vijay Khan, asked company authorities to give priority to local youths for jobs.
JSPCB regional officer R.N. Choudhary said the public hearing was video-taped.
“It will be sent to JSPCB headquarters in Ranchi within a week. Company officials have assured to look into the reasons for seepage of effluents from the plant,” he said.
Tata Steel chief administration M.G. Singh, head of environment management Subhanand Mukhesh and head of the Bara project expansion and maintenance Ravi Prakash were present during the hearing.