Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Angul, July 23:
The aggrieved villagers of Hensmul in the Talcher coalfield area in Odisha have rejected the ‘conditional’ reinstatement offer by the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and decided to paralyse coal mining activity from July 25, reports said.
The village head Radha Mohan Behera has dashed off a letter to the collector saying the villagers will launch an indefinite ‘mines bandh’ agitation from 25 July against the MCL’s conditions for joining in their duties. He said the conditions set by MCL asking them to leave their village by 31 October after being reinstated in unacceptable because the project affected villagers are yet to be provided with proper resettlement facilities.
The affected villagers are on a hunger strike since last Saturday in front of the office of the general manager of Jagannath colliery area, demanding a proper resettlement as per the mandatory provision of state government rehabilitation policy before they move out of their village.
“Providing some colliery quarters is not the solution because we need resettlement plots in lieu of our home stead land,” Sanjeev Sahu, a project-affected person, said.
MCL is meanwhile is deeply worried over the impasse as the strike will again stop production of about one lakh tonne of coal per day.
It may be noted here that earlier this month the agitation by villagers had stalled mining operations for four days throwing coal supply and power generation into a major crisis. The state police had cracked down on the agitators and booked eight villagers under the Essential Services Maintenance Act.Negotiations were held with the villagers, MCL and district authorities trying to arrive at an amicable settlement.
However, the situation has now snowballed into a major confrontation between the Hensmul villagers and the MCL and is likely to paralyse coal production unless the matter is sorted out amicably.
The MCL authorities have reportedly sought the help and intervention of the state government to tide over the imminent threat of closure of coal mining operation in Talcher.