Vikash Sharma

Tension prevailed at Ghantapada in Talcher after scores of people on Sunday stopped goods train protesting closure of a private coal plant over pollution norms in the region. The agitators launched an economic blockade demanding resumption of the operations of Global Coal Plant.

It is for the past three that the supporters and opponents of the coal plant are at logger heads over the issue. The supporters, who were eking out a living from the plant, have stalled coal transportation from the area by staging a rail-roko agitation today.

Ghatapada Sarpanch said, “The MLA wants closure of the unit but we want it to operate as it is linked to livelihood of several people here.”

Another protestor said, “The opponents are alleging rampant pollution in the region. It is a conspiracy by the leaders. If the single unit is causing pollution, other mining activities should also be stopped here.”

It is now for the last 20 years that the plant was set up and all clearances were also given in the past. “We suspect a larger conspiracy behind the protest and move to close the unit,” said another agitator.

Meanwhile, the officials could not be contacted for their comments and response to the allegations and agitation in the area.

(Reported by Manil Moharana)