Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jul 19:
Odisha High Court yesterday asked Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) to employ two members of a family displaced by its coal mining project within two months as committed at the time of land procurement.
As per the proceedings in the court, MCL had acquired land in Angul district for its Anant Open cast mining project. A notification for the compensation and rehabilitation of the land owners for this project had been issued by the State Revenue and Excise Department on January 2, 1989. The notification clearly stated that a man from each family that loses more than one-third of their land would be given employment.
As per the families of the plaintiffs, out of their 6 acre and 8 decimals of land, 5 acre and 67 decimals were procured for the project. The property jointly belonged to four brothers named Ishwar Pradhan, Jeevan Pradhan, Laxmidhar Pradhan and Dev Pradhan.
Based on the procurement norms, a member from each of these families was eligible for a job. Their names also featured in the investigation report that was made by MCL authorities and in the list of land owners whose land was procured prepared by the Angul collector.
After verifying the records, members from the families from two of the brothers – Ishwar Pradhan and Jeevan Pradhan – were given employment. However, families of Laxmidhar Pradhan and Dev Pradhan were left out.
MCL, in a letter dated May 21, 1997, cited lack of job opening to avoid giving them placement. The plaintiff moved the High Court in 2002 seeking justice. While the court had asked MCL to take a call on the employment within two weeks, the company again turned down the two families on April 8, 2010.
The families moved to the High Court again against the decision of the company. The hearing of the case was completed on June 25, 2015 and the verdict was reserved.
Yesterday Justice BR Sarangi’s court ruled that it is not legal to provide employments to only two of the four brothers on a property on which all four had the same stake and asked MCL to provide placement to the plaintiffs within two months.