Durgapur, Feb. 15: Nearly 50 villagers, most of them construction material suppliers, today stopped work at two Essar Oil pits near Durgapur for the third time in less than a month accusing the company of not keeping “promises”.
The villagers claimed Essar Oil, which is extracting coal-bed methane in Laudoha’s Nachan, had not constructed four metal roads in the village and drains, nor renovated the local burning ghat as it had “promised” when 4 acres were acquired from around 100 villagers two years ago.
“Essar has started extracting coal-bed methane from one of the pits and work is going on in another, but the promises are yet to be fulfilled. We have decided not to allow them to work unless senior executives come here and take steps,” said Chandan Goswami, a local Trinamul activist who had given land.
The protesters led by Goswami went to pit No. 54, which is under construction, around 10.30am and asked the engineers and labourers to stop work. “They shouted slogans against our company and asked us to leave. We got scared and left,” an Essar engineer said.
The engineers and labourers at pit No. 53 were also allegedly threatened and asked to leave.
A team from Laudoha police station urged the villagers to withdraw the agitation but to no avail.
A senior Essar Oil official said from Mumbai: “It has become a regular practice of villagers to stop work in the area. As of now, we are trying to settle the issue through discussions. But if the interruptions continue, we will seek the help of the government.”
Trinamul’s Laudoha block president Sujit Mukherjee said the protesters were party supporters and their demands were justified.