Tension prevailed at the Essar Steel project site here following a clash between security personnel and labourers, on Friday. As many as 20 persons, including labourers and company officials, were injured.
Reports said the labourers staged a demonstration in front of the factory alleging that the security personnel had set fire to their rest sheds, the previous night.
When security personnel resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd, the labourers retaliated by pelting stones at them and company officials besides damaging two vehicles and the guard camp office. While seven employees have been admitted to Atharbanki hospital, two labourers had to be shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in a critical state.
Sources said Essar Steel had constructed a conveyor belt for transporting raw materials from Paradip Port to the factory. However, some temporary rest sheds under the conveyor line had affected the work. About 40 labourers were staying there. The company had also served notices to the labourers to evict the place but the latter stuck to their guns.
Nuagarh Sarpanch Sarada Prasan Chaudhry alleged that security personnel of Essar Steel had deliberately set fire to the sheds for forcible eviction of these labourers.
Project Director of Essar Steel P K Gupta, however, said about 35 persons attacked him and his colleagues with lethal weapons while they were entering the factory premises. They also assaulted the security guards, he said, adding that none carried authorised identity cards of the company. “We are in no way involved in the fire incident,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, a platoon of police has been deployed at the factory site to maintain law and order. The situation is under control, said Paradip Lock police station SDPO Bhabani Sankar Mishra.