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Sec 144 clamped as Talcher continues to be on the boil


OST Bureau

Talcher, Dec 1:

Prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC was clamped today in the Talcher Municipality, South Balanda, Dera and Handidhua areas in view of the heightened tension following the arrest of the local Independent MLA Brajakishore Pradhan on Saturday.

Sec 144 will be in force till Dec 3, Angul police officials said.

At least four persons including the local MLA were injured when retrenched workers and people from nearby villages led by legislator Braja Kishor Pradhan on Friday clashed with the local contractor’s men at the railway siding in  the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL)-run Jagannath Colliery.

An MCL office in Talcher after the Friday clash
An MCL office in Talcher after the Friday clash

Mahanadi Coalfields supplies coal to several power companies, including the public sector power utility NTPC , Talcher Thermal Power Station and NALCO.

Although operations and transportation at two mines has resumed amid tight security, other mines continued to remain shut, Angul SP Narasimha Bhol said.

The trouble at the coalfields began when police took 89 people, including the legislator, into custody and allowed a contractor to resume work at two railway sidings on Thursday.

The operations at the sidings stopped over a month and half ago after villagers protested the contractor’s move to retrench them and engage his own workers. The villagers have been protesting since then.

During the Friday clash, the angry workers and villagers forcibly shut mines, burnt 35 bikes and four multi-utility vehicles before ransacking offices at the mining sites. They also removed a fishplate from the rail track used for coal transportation, the police official said.

The irate villagers also set fire to an oil tanker and an excavator on Saturday. Police managed to chase protestors away when they were attempting to torch a conveyor belt used for the transportation of coal to state-run NALCO, the SP said.

Police have arrested the legislator and deployed more than 500 policemen at the coalfields to prevent any violent incident.

“The situation is tense but under control,” Bhol said.

As the coal supply stopped, NTPC has already shut down two units of its 5X600 MW power plant in the region. If the coal supply is not resumed fully, many other plants are likely to be hit, officials said.

( With inputs from IANS )