ANGUL: Police arrested eight of the striking Hensmul villagers under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), the first arrest under the Act since it came into force in Talcher industrial belt on April 23.
ESMA was clamped in the industrial area to prevent any kind of strike, obstruction and agitation that would hamper coal production and despatch to power plants. It is also in force in two NTPC plant areas at Talcher, according to the notification issued by the State Government.
The arrested were produced before court in the evening. After their bail petitions were rejected by the court, they were sent to Talcher jail, according to Inspector in-charge of Talcher police station Kailash Acharya.
In the morning, police lifted more than 200 agitating Hensmula villagers to Deulbera colliery institute where they arrested eight of them and released the rest. Agitated by the arrest, more than 100 women gheraoed the residence of Talcher sub-collector in the afternoon. Police forces were deployed at the spot to prevent any untoward incident.
On Saturday, MCL authorities issued written assurance to the striking villagers revoking the termination order of 122 villagers and also agreed not to break their service continuity during the termination period of two months. But the villagers demanded payment of wages for the two months which was turned down by MCL that led to continuation of agitation.
MCL authorities maintain that since it is a Government company, they can not pay the wages during the termination period. According to colliery sources, mining operation was resumed for some time in the day but stopped apprehending trouble from the villagers.
Hensmul villagers resorted to agitation after 127 of them were dismissed from MCL in May for not vacating their homestead land. The MCL had given them a site at Gurugang to resettle. But the villagers refused to shift and demanded another site which was turned down by MCL.
The deadlock has been continuing since then. However both MCL and villagers are hopeful of a breakthrough at project level advisory meeting to be held on July 19. Collector will chair the meeting.