ROURKELA: Uncertainty looms large over the fate of fourth ash pond project of NTPC-SAIL Power Company Pvt Ltd (NSPCL) as tribals continue to stall the work for over five months. NSPCL also plans to generate 210 mega watt (MW) more power.
Sources said though ground work for ash pond-D at Barkani was started on January 25, members of Sundargarh Zilla Mulwasi Adiwasi Bachao Samiti (SZMABS) stopped it claiming that it would displace hundreds of tribals families.
Though work resumed on February 6 amid deployment of police, the tribal protestors led by Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey stalled it again. A meeting held four days later under the chairmanship of Rourkela ADM K Sudershan Chakravorty failed to find a solution.
Citing that several tribal families displaced by Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) were yet to get compensation and rehabilitation benefits, Tirkey rejected the administration's proposal to simultaneously allow work at the site and conduct a joint verification to find out the left out displaced persons. The stand-off continues since then.
The NSPCL plant located on RSP campus produces 120 mw of power. NSPCL sources said ash pond-A and B inside RSP are filled to their capacity and ash pond-C may hardly last a year. The RSP has given 140 acres at Barkani to set up ash pond-D immediately and the fifth ash dyke in future. The NSPCL also plans to set up another power unit to produce 210 mw for consumption of RSP.
General secretary of BMS-affiliated Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), a recognised trade union of RSP, Babaji Sahu said presently RSP's power consumption is about 140 mw and the demand is met by NSPCL and a 30 mw power plant of RSP. As RSP expanded its capacity to 4.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), an ash pond and new power generation plant are critically needs of the plant, he added.
Meanwhile, Tirkey told mediapersons on Friday that tribal protestors would gherao Rourkela police headquarters on July 13 to protest police atrocities on tribal people who are fighting to protect their land.