Pradeep Pattanayak

Tension on Saturday flared up at Jamakani coal mines under Hemagiri police limits in Sundargarh district when hundreds of local residents put up vehement protests against the mining activities of Vedanta. 

They demanded compensation as per the new rehabilitation and resettlement policy of the government. 

It was when the company was about to start its mining activities at the site today morning that hundreds of villagers from four villages including Jamakani and Girisima reached the spot and staged a protest. 

The villagers’ protest was so intense that the police deployed at the spot had to resort to baton charges to disperse the crowd, leading to a scuffle between the police force and agitating villagers. In the melee, two villagers are reported to have suffered injuries due to lathi charge. 

In order to calm down the situation, more forces were also called in. 

While palpable tension is still prevailing in the area, 13 platoons of police forces have been deployed at the spot to check further escalation of the law and order situation. 

Notably, the displaced villagers have been demanding compensation under the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2013. There have been talks involving the villagers, the company and the administration. 

It was when the mines were first allotted to Bhushan company, the said company had acquired the lands and gave compensation to the land owners as well. But it took years for the company to start its project. 

In the meantime, the government’s rehabilitation and resettlement policy, 2013 came. As there was an undue delay, the company was even ready to pay Rs 6 lakh per acre. But the landowners have stuck to their guns and have been demanding compensation as per the new policy.
The administration has already made it clear to the landowners that they can’t be compensated under the new policy as they have already been compensated under the earlier policy. 

(Reported by Bijay Barua, Sundargarh, OTV Bureau)