| B. Muthuraman
Jamshedpur, Aug. 14: Families displaced by Tata Steel’s projects will become family.
Stung by the violence that erupted over its proposed Kalinga Nagar plant in Orissa earlier this year, the company has decided to give a human touch to the rehabilitation process in the three states where it is setting up greenfield projects.
Managing director B. Muthuraman said the company would ensure that all those displaced in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are made a part of the “Tata Steel family”.
He promised that the company would see to it that adequate compensation is given to them, jobs are provided to a member from every family and, above all, Tata Steel would keep track of their earnings.
Tata Steel is setting up greenfield projects in Orissa’s Kalinga Nagar (6 million tonnes), Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur (5 million tonnes) and Tontoposhi in Jharkhand (10 million tonnes). The row over displacement has been dogging all companies wishing to invest in these states and erupted on January 2 when 13 villagers were killed in police firing in Kalinga Nagar when they were resisting Tata Steel officials and the civil administration from acquiring their land.
Muthuraman admitted that protests are a part of the process to set up new ventures and take place in all countries that have steel plants. Even Tata Steel’s ferro-chrome project in South Africa ran into rough weather for the past three years but the company countered all odds and the project would be inaugurated on August 21. But, he said, in India the problem arises because of the “middlemen” involved.
“Here the villagers have to be assured time and again and it is the company’s prerogative to make the villager more comfortable,” he said, and added that greenfield projects are a social, rather than technological, issue.
Muthuraman said he was satisfied with the progress of all three projects, especially the one in Chhattisgarh where gram sabhas involving the villagers had yielded positive results. On the Jamshedpur plant, he said work was in progress on the expansion of the existing plant from 5 million tonne to 10 million tonne. “Work has begun for which Rs 5000 crore has been invested,” he said.
Muthuraman was also critical of the lack of environmental consciousness in India. He pointed out that Japan produces 100 million tonne of steel, yet its plants are clean and green. In India, which produces much less steel, the condition of the plants left much to be desired.