MALKANGIRI: Days after extending their conditional support to the proposed Dalmia Cement plant at Kattamateru under Malkangiri block, hundreds of villagers held a gram sabha at Mattapakka panchayat on Wednesday where they reportedly opposed the project over various demands.
The villagers told the district and Dalmia Cement officials present at the meeting to first fulfil their demands before setting up the plant. Though the district administration had made all arrangements for the gram sabha and erected tents for the villagers, the latter refused to accept any favours and sat in the open braving the scorching sun.
Villagers of Kattamateru said once the plant comes up, they won’t be able to collect forest produce as valuable trees like mahua, tendu, amla, harida and bahada, which are sources of their livelihood, will be destroyed. Besides, local youths are illiterate and it is unlikely that they will be provided employment in the proposed plant. The villagers asked the officials to explain how the company planned to compensate for the loss of valuable trees and provide employment to villagers.
Malkangiri tehsildar Rakhel Kumar Parida, who presiding over the meeting, told the villagers that solutions to the issues will be found out after consultation with the district administration and Dalmia Cement officials.
Deputy executive director of Dalmia Cement SK Rout said the locals raised issues of preserving the village temple and cemetery situated in forest land. “We will hold discussion with the administration and villagers and chalk out a plan to move ahead with the project while preserving both the temple and cemetery,” he added.