Security personnel keep vigil at Belgarhia on Monday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Construction of residential quarters for people living atop Jharia’s underground inferno resumed amidst tight security at Belgarhia on Monday.
Over 200 policemen equipped with firearms, teargas shells and riot control vehicles, led by DSP (Sindri) Ramashankar Singh, kept vigil at the site, where work had been stalled after local villagers scared labourers away on December 16. The villagers want their land back, as the open cast colliery project, for which BCCL acquired the property, did not materialise.
Speaking to The Telegraph, DSP (Sindri) Ramashankar Singh said: “We earlier appealed to local residents to cooperate with us and solve all issues through dialogue. We will not allow anyone to take law and order in their hands and are fully prepared to meet any challenge.”
Baliapur BDO Prakash Kumar, circle officer Vishal Kumar, JRDA’s rehabilitation and resettlement incharge Gopal Ji and land acquisition officer Yugal Kishor were also present to supervise the site levelling work. Officers of Hyderabad-based Indu Projects Limited, which has got the contract to build 2,000 quarters at the site, were also present.
Till 2pm, no protest from local villagers was witnessed.
JRDA’s chief manager (civil) Sunil Dalela said they started foundation excavation and floor concretisation work on Monday for three blocks comprising of 16 quarters each. “We will soon begin work on 192 more quarters spread across 12 blocks,” he added.
JRDA had roped in Hyderabad-based Indu Projects Limited in 2012 to build 2,000 quarters on 45 acre near Jharia Vihar colony.
On Septembers 12, 2012 and November 26, 2012, local residents scared away labourers carrying out site levelling work on the site. Construction of 706 of the 2,000 quarters on 7.5 acres began on February 18, 2013, after talks between JRDA officials and villagers.
The remaining 37.5 acres, however, remained a bone a contention. In a bid to disrupt construction at the site, villagers also attacked JRDA and Indu Projects officials with bows and arrows on December 16.
BCCL acquired 1,758 acres from Baliapur residents for launching open cast colliery project in 1986. When the project could not take off owing to financial non-viability, the coal company transferred the land to JRDA for rehabilitating Jharia-displaced families.