SAMBALPUR: As many as 15 villagers of Budhiapali, protesting against the ongoing coal mining project of NLC India Limited at Talabira in Rengali block, were arrested by police on Thursday. Earlier on the day, 38 villagers were detained by the police from the site where they have been staging dharna since February 10. Budhiapali is one of the villages set to be affected by the project. On February 4, some villagers of Budhiapali had approached the Sambalpur Collector with a memorandum listing their three demands and warned of launching a protest if they are not fulfilled. The demands included permanent jobs at NLCIL to the members of the displaced families, the inclusion of all displaced families under a single category for the award of compensation and valuation of land, acquired by the company, at `80 lakh per acre irrespective of its type.
On February 10, the villagers stopped digging work for the proposed open cast mines at Talabira and launched dharna. Susanta Budhia, a villager said, “We want to know on what grounds our fellow villagers were picked up from the spot. We had been sitting on a peaceful protest, but the police not only ransacked the dharna site but also forcibly took away 38 villagers from the spot.”
SDPO, Sambalpur Sadar Tapan Mohanty said, “The villagers had been sitting on dharna at the worksite since February 10 and were preventing the company from carrying out the work. They were demanding jobs for 111 villagers immediately. However, the administration had told them earlier that the work was at its preliminary stage and they could be provided jobs only after the mines become operational. As the villagers did not budge from their stand and continued the agitation, we had to arrest them. But no woman has been arrested in the case.”The villagers have been arrested under Sections 147, 341,294, 427, 506, 447 and 149 of IPC.