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Stir plans off, steel firm gets a breather

Bokaro, Jan. 6: Two MLAs, leading local protests against the management of Electrosteel Castings Ltd, have decided to defer their plan to stop supplies to the new factory undergoing trial runs, after a meeting today under the aegis of Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh.

The meeting, attended by MLAs Arup Chatterjee (Nirsa) and Mathura Mahto (Tundi) and director of the steel firm R.S. Singh resolved to set up a three-member committee headed by Bokaro additional collector A.K Khaitan to look into the grievances of displaced villagers.

The committee will now submit a report to the deputy commissioner within three weeks.

“I have asked both parties to resolve the problems amicably as an agitation would not lead anywhere. Both agreed. The steel firm was told to come up with all details of the issues raised by the displaced villagers,” Uma Shankar Singh said.

Among the complaints voiced by the displaced were that they were paid compensation lower than market rates in return of their land in Siyaljori in Chandankyari block, around 30km from Bokaro city, where the company set up the factory.

Villagers have also alleged that while no jobs had been promised to the displaced as was earlier agreed upon, the management even lodged false cases against them.

Now, Uma Shankar Singh has asked the MLAs to ensure villagers lodged specific complaints in writing, even as he asked the Calcutta-based company to provide details of the number of jobs given to the displaced against what had been promised.

Apart from the deputy commissioner, the district administration was represented by Bokaro SP Kuldip Dwivedi and Chas SDO Sanjay Singh.

Uma Shankar Singh said another committee headed by DSP R.N. Sharma would be looking into the villagers’ allegations of false cases.

“But, if any protester is found to have taken the law in his/her own hands, he/she will be penalised as per law,” he said.

Led by Chatterjee under the banner of Asangathit Majdoor Morcha, villagers had threatened to launch an “economic blockade” from January 9 to press for their demands.

And it was to prevent a flare-up that the district administration had convened today’s meeting.

Last year on September 25, over 500 youths from the villages of Siyaljori, Burhibinoi, Parbatpur and Fatehpur, led by the Nirsa MLA, launched an indefinite protest at the plant and Parbatpur coal block of the company at Chandankyari block.

They blocked all roads to the plant to prevent trucks carrying materials to reach the plant that employs over 1,000 workers.

The district administration had to intervene after which the protest was called off after two days.