Restive villagers of Hemgir in Sundargarh turning against coal mining
After closing 2 new mines, affected locals disrupt coal transportation
ROURKELA: Mining-affected villagers of Hemgir block in Sundargarh district are increasingly turning restive over the delayed rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) process and inconvenience caused by movement of coal carrying heavy vehicles.
After closing the Jamkani coal mine of Vedanta on December 22 and Siarmal open cast project of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) on January 3 with violent protests, angry villagers disrupted coal transportation by blocking Hemgir-Sundargarh road at Kiripsira Chowk from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.
Sources said villagers of Kiripsira and Garjanbahal along with Sanghumra sarpanch Rebati Chhatriya and her Baling counterpart Subhadra Baiga resorted to the road blockade from Saturday morning after drivers of some wrongly-parked trucks reportedly scuffled with some locals the previous night.
Chhatriya claimed that the parking lot for trucks of MCL along the Hemgir-Sundargarh road is a major contributor to dust pollution in the area. Besides, the truck drivers often encroach on the road by parking their vehicles erratically. To save time, they also jump lanes and resort to overtaking which puts lives of commuters at risk.
Sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Sundargarh Himanshu Behera said normalcy was restored at around 1 pm on Sunday after the administration assured the agitators to curb erratic parking of heavy vehicles on roads and check lane indiscipline to minimise accidents.
Meanwhile, to break the impasse at Vedanta’s Jamkani coal mine, Sundargarh sub-collector Dasarathi Sarabu has scheduled a meeting with the protesting villagers at the site to discuss their demands.
Sundargarh ADM (Revenue) Abhimanyu Behera said the administration wants an amicable solution between the company and locals. The villagers would be urged to refrain from creating law and order problem at the meeting.
Jamkani Coal Block Bisthapith Sangh (BCBBS) advisor Niranjan Bhoi said the stalemate will end if the administration addresses the legitimate demands for higher land compensation, establishment of a new R&R colony, survey of extended families affected by the project and jobs.
The Jamkani mine was launched on November 5, 2022 amid police presence and protest by displaced villagers of Jamkani, Mendra, Jharpalam and Girisuan. On December 22, the agitators and personnel of Vedanta’s mining contract firm clashed leading to closure of the mine.