CUTTACK: The continuing blockade of the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) project at Nisha in Angul district by local villagers has come under judicial scrutiny. The Orissa High Court on Friday directed the State Government to immediately ensure opening of gates to the township and the residential colonies.
A Division Bench comprising Justices BP Das and BK Nayak directed the Home Secretary, DGP and Collector, Angul, to free entry and exit points to and from the township and allow free movement of the residents. Adequate protection should be provided to the residents by deploying required security forces.
The Collector should take necessary precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident. The Collector and the SP of Angul have further been directed to submit reports on action taken by them by February 8, the next date of hearing.
The Court’s directives came in response to a writ petition filed by administrative head of JSPL, Nisha Township Services, Saroj Kumar Mohapatra. He pleaded for urgent steps to ensure medical assistance to the residents of Nisha Township as well as inflow of essential commodities and provision for other necessities.
Locals under the banner of Birankeswar Shilpanchal Kshyatigrastha Praja Sangha have shut down all the four gates of the township since January 25 as part of their stir. There are pressing for their 20-point charter of demands.
The blockade has been imposed following clash between locals and security guards over withdrawal of benefits and allowances to land-losers of periphery villages.
The petitioner alleged that hundreds of villagers had been squatting in front of the township gates stopping inflow of essential commodities for the residents. Those ailing have been affected seriously as medicine shops have run out of stock and doctors are not allowed to enter the township. Ambulances are also not allowed to ferry the diseased to hospitals while schools have been closed. The Bench took stern note of the situation and ruled that right to protest or right to go for demonstration can’t go to an extent of creating a situation that amounts to vandalism. “Blocking ingress and egress of a colony and forcing inmates to leave the premises is nothing but an act of unruliness which the State authorities are bound to prevent. The act amounts to breach of order,” the Bench ruled.