The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda toes Bengal in Bokaro

Bokaro, Jan. 8: Till four months ago, he was courting investors and planning to acquire land for industry.

But out of power, Arjun Munda today threatened to resist all plans to set up a greenfield steel plant at Bokaro by Steel Authority of India Ltd.

Munda admitted drawing inspiration from Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. And went on to warn that unless the demands of the displaced are met by the Bokaro Steel management, the BJP would oppose the planned visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bokaro later this month.

The Prime Minister is expected to lay the foundation stone of the new steel plant and a power plant here.

Accusing the UPA governments at the Centre and the state for ignoring the displaced, who have been demanding adequate compensation and rehabilitation, including jobs, for land taken over some five decades ago, Munda claimed that a flawed approach to development had given rise to the problem of extremism in the country.

“BSL does not have legal documents over much of the land and has even failed to disburse the compensation,” said the former chief minister.

Alleging that BSL management was trying to pressurise farmers into accepting compensation given 25 years ago, Munda asked “why will the farmers accept compensation at the rate that was prevalent 25 years ago”.

“Just as the Left Front government in Bengal is feeling the heat over protests by the displaced, Bokaro will be the stage in Jharkhand for similar protests,” he predicted.

Munda even used the rhetoric and bluster one associates with Banerjee and declared: “Not an inch of land will be allowed to be taken away by BSL any longer; this is just the beginning of a long struggle and BSL should recognise it.”

Munda was specially scathing in his attack on Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

The latter, he alleged, had held the interview for appointment of grade IV staff at BSL in Calcutta. As many as 75 out of the 95 people appointed, Munda alleged, were from Paswan’s own constituency in Bihar, Hajipur. “Why doesn’t the minister hold the interview in his personal chamber and fill all the vacancies with his own men,” he added, his words dripping with sarcasm.

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