ANGUL: Residents of Chhendipada block have decided to continue their opposition towards Mahaguj colliery’s proposed Machhakata coal project.
The colliery authorities have announced to hold a public hearing for the project on September 4. This is the second time they are planning to hold a public hearing as their first attempt in December, 2011, was marred by violence. The venue was then torched by the locals.
The colliery authorities have proposed to set up Machhakata open cast coal project having a capacity of 30 MT. The project requires land from nine panchayats in Chhendipada block.
Sources said 90 per cent of the total required land of 3000 ha is highly fertile where locals grow crops.
Villagers fear that if the project comes up, river Anuli, which is the lifeline of the area, will be polluted and 10 to 15 natural streams would dry up. The underground water level would also come down drastically and lead to acute water shortage, locals alleged.
President of Machhakata Bistapan Birodhi Manch, Prafulla Pradhan, said, “We will die but not give an inch of our land to the project which will be an environmental disaster.” Locals are being mobilised to oppose the public hearing.
He said there is no point in holding public hearings when the locals are not ready to part with their land. “People of all the nine villages are unitedly opposing the project. If the project comes up, the agricultural belt will turn into a desert as forest cover will deplete. We will hold a meeting on August 24 to chalk out our next course of action,” he said.
Regional Officer of State Pollution Control Board, S Dash, said as per direction of the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, the public hearing is being organised as it is essential for a getting environment clearance.