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Chhattisgarh: Public hearing on Tata project illegal: CPI

Posted by Admin on October 24, 2009

tata_26918Raipur, Oct 23 (IANS) The Communist Party of India (CPI), which has been opposing Tata Steel’s proposed integrated 5.5-million-tonne per annum steel plant in Chhattisgarh, has now termed the Oct 12 public hearing on the environment clearance for the project “illegal and undemocratic”.

In a letter to Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh regarding the public hearing at Jagdalpur, some 300 km from Raipur, CPI raised several questions against the district authorities and said the hearing was “illegal and undemocratic”.

“It is mandatory to carry out social impact assessment (SIA) study in the affected area along with EIA (environment impact assessment) study report during public hearing when it is for the tribal area, under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution,” CPI national executive member C.R. Bakshi said in a statement.

“But no such SIA study report was made available to the public hearing for consideration simultaneously with the EIA study. But these objections were turned down by the administration and the public hearing was conducted in illegal and highly undemocratic manner,” Bakshi’s statement said.

India’s largest private steel manufacturer Tata Steel is scheduled to invest Rs.19,500 crore in the Maoist insurgency-hit Bastar district in the greenfield project.

The plant is planned in Lohandiguda area of the district, and about 80 percent of the land out of the 2,044 hectares required has been acquired by the district administration in 10 villages, provoking a strong reaction from CPI.

Following this, the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) organised a public hearing Oct 12, and most local residents supported the proposed project.

After the hearing, Bastar district collector M.S. Paraste said: “The public hearing was successful and the people of Bastar should be congratulated as the proposed steel plant would change the life of tribal-stronghold region.”

But CPI disputes this, saying in its statement on the hearing: “Lady police in plain dress and those yesmen … were brought by the administration of their choice and tutored to support the EIA.”

It added: “Actually, by putting up police barricades on the roads all around, the administration physically prevented the landholder tribal people to attend the public hearing.”

The CPI has now announced a “people’s” public hearing at Lohandiguda Nov 7.

Bastar collector Paraste was not available for comments. Sindh Today

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